For over a week now, traffic at the busy Banjul-Barra ferry crossing has been slower due to the fact that it is only one ferry that is plying the sea. An announcement was made earlier by the Ferry Service management under the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) in the media that the services of two out of the three ferries are being suspended. Since then, the passengers who do not have an alternative have been subjected to waiting for longer hours to cross with the only ferry which is available. Visiting the ferry terminal in Banjul yesterday, Wednesday, 21 August, this reporter interviewed some weary looking passengers at the waiting room.
The general concerns being expressed by them are that all the ferries at this crossing take a longer time to transport passengers from one point to the other, but added that two operating at the same time makes the situation relatively better.
Alieu Joof, a regular commuter from the North Bank Region, said the slowness of the ferries sometimes compel them to stay in Banjul until very late just to wait for a ferry to cross with to get home. "Depending on time consideration and the financial means, I sometimes join the boats to cross which has some safety implications," lamented Joof. Another commuter, Fatou Manneh, who also complained about the same inconveniences, said they are calling on the relevant authorities to come to the aid of the people of Nuimi whose livelihood is linked with crossing to Banjul on a daily basis and provide with regular and safe ferry services."
Due to the unavoidable delay, one is bound to experience problems as many passengers were seen going for the wooden boats which are faster but more expensive.
Talking to the captain of one of the wooden boats, he told this reporter that they are normally very busy especially when there is only one ferry operating because some passengers are sometimes in a hurry and could not wait for the ferry which sometimes takes more than an hour to cross the sea. He said they charge D25 per passenger as opposed to the D15 paid for a ferry ticket.
When this reporter visited the Ferry Management Service at GPA to talk to its PRO on the current state of the service and when it will be ameliorated, he was told that the person was on an official mission up country. Foroyaa will pursue the issue to find answers on what is responsible for this seemingly intractable problem and what measures are being considered to redress the situation to enable passengers to enjoy a reliable, efficient and safe ferry service.