By Makutu Manneh
The Deputy Managing Director of the Gambia Ferry Services has assured Gambians that their concerns on ferry docking will soon be history at the country’s crossing points.
Hali Abdoulie Gai made the assurance in an exclusive interview with Foroyaa after the Kanilia Ferry encountered difficulty on Wednesday 23rd September 2020 as it approached the lander at Barra.
“Gambians main Concern about the lander will soon be history because the inspection team from the Netherlands, last week completed their inspection and we agreed on all the logistics,” he said.
Mr. Gai explained that a team from the Netherlands is due to come to The Gambia in October 2020 to start the installation, but no specific time has been given for the operation to commence.
He however shed light on why the Kanilai ferry was unable to land for so long, saying when the ferry approached the Barra lander; one of its pipes busted and made the engine to go off.
“The other engines could not stir the ferry to go to the lander. Barra is opposite the Atlantic Ocean, the strong wind from the ocean was so strong that it pushed the ferry and the ferry went aground. That means that the bottom of the ferry was landing on the sand,” he said.
Gai said as the ferry was aground, there was no endangerment of lives or properties and that all the people needed to do was to exercise patience as Kunta Kinte was on its way to assist.
He refuted claims that people were jumping from the ferry, noting it was due to the ferry’s proximity to the shore, the canoe operators volunteered to transport passengers from the deck of the ferry to the shore.
Gai clarified that they didn’t organize for the canons to transport people from the ferry, which he said will be irresponsible for them to do especially without life jackets.
“It was not organized in a professional manner. It was not done in a safe manner. We cannot stop people from doing what they wanted to as they were jumping into the boats on their own willingness,” he explained.
Mr. Gai said social media is open to everybody and that the way the incident was portrayed was bad. Nonetheless, he assured their customers that they will continue to render safe ferry operations throughout the country.
Deputy MD Gai implored Gambians to understand that breakdowns happen in all forms of transportation, but he was quick to say that their organization has tug boats to respond to emergencies.
“We appeal to customers to cooperate with terminal offices, for them to respect our procedures and systems at all terminals for their own safety and satisfaction,” he said.
Gai also explained the life span of ferries, which can go up to 25 years depending on how it is subjected to dry docking- meaning renewing the life of the vessel.
He said Kanilai is not an old ferry because it went for dry docking three years back, adding that the failure of the engine was not because it was taking in water.
“But as an operator, we minimize the breakdown but we cannot eliminate it in total,” he said.