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About safety in our ferry services

Aug 28, 2013, 10:54 AM

The latest news coming out regarding the ferry services between Banjul and Barra has once again led us to reiterate our long time safety concerns about the ferries plying the Banjul-Barra river crossing.

According to reports in Foroyaa, the poor ferry service forced passengers to spend the night in the water last Friday, when the Kanilai ferry was unable to reach Barra. The report said the ferry collected passengers from Banjul, but later developed a breakdown when its engine stopped to function as it came very close to Barra.

These are issues that should not be taken lightly by the relevant authorities, but should be seen as a very serious issue that continues to heighten safety fears on a daily basis.

Whether the authorities concerned are aware or not, what is evident is that many are sceptical about the safety of the ferries, and complaints are frequently heard about the present condition of the ferries in causing delay at both terminals, particularly for vehicles.

While we welcome every measure being taken by the authorities to ensure safety in our ferry services, we insist that every step be taken to ensure the safety of people using the ferries.

We have over the years stated in these pages that an efficient transportation network is indispensable to the realisation of the government’s Vision 2020 objectives, but only if urgent actions are taken to put right both major and minor loopholes in the operations of the ferry services in this country, within a reasonably short time.

Yes, while the government has invested heavily in trying to address the problems facing the ferry services in the country, recent happenings in our ferries, especially while they are moving between Banjul and Barra, have shown that a lot more needs to be done, and with urgency.

Crossing between Banjul and Barra these days, one would realize the slow pace with which the ferries move; which in most cases takes passengers making the river crossing several hours to reach either Banjul or Barra.

Though the ferries bring in a lot of revenue, on a daily basis, the GPA should and must be seen to take immediate steps to put aside any ferry that is no longer considered safe for use by the travelling public.

The management of the GPA should put every safety measure in place in our ferry services, including enough life-vests and lifeboats for use in an emergency, to give the passengers crossing a reasonable degree of assurance that the ferries they board are perfectly safe.

This is the feeling all around, at the moment.

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