By Shout-Africa.com Gambia Correspondent – The Gambia Ports Authority no 2 has dismissed reports that the ramp at the Banjul ferry terminal is not working. But he admitted that they sometimes use trucks to bring the ramp down when the ferry is about to anchor.
“If the ramp was not working then we could not get the Kanilai ferry running. All I know is that Barra and Johe developed problems which we are trying to sort out.”
Mr. Abdourahman Bah who was reacting to the reports that the ramp in Banjul is faulty said: “So why the noise over this thing. If Kanilai is working and people are crossing what is the problem then.”
According to him, the spare parts are not available in The Gambia and they had to order it from Europe by air.
Bah assured that the engineers and electricians are doing everything possible to meet the demand of their passengers by mending the two ferries whose parts have already been imported.
“Nature is nature”, he said, making reference to the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan. Meanwhile, passengers at the Banjul terminal have expressed dissatisfaction with the ports authority as they wait for hours to cross to and from Barra. A group of Gambia High School students found at the terminal disclosed that they were at the terminal since 9am in the morning when this reporter approached them at 12:30. “We are going for an excursion and there is only one ferry plying,” one of the students lamented.
Other students who board the ferry from the north bank every day to come to school said they have no other option, but to use the small canoes which they said is very risky and costly. “We join the small canoes and pay 20 dalasi each, because we don’t want to be late for classes.”
According to one Yankuba Njie, a canoe owner near the terminal said the breakdown of the two ferries have earned him a lot of income these days as passengers who cannot wait for the only ferry board his canoe.
“I arrived at the terminal at 10am and found that the Kanilai, the only ferry had already left. We have been here for three hours and the ferry is nowhere to be found.”
“Kanilai which used to be the fastest of all the ferries is very slow nowadays as it spends more than an hour in the sea,” he said.
Jojo Joof who spoke to this reporter immediately she disembarked from a canoe said she had to join the canoe as there was one ferry which she said takes more than one hour before it anchors.