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Journalist dies in Barra Ferry accident

Nov 22, 2010, 11:50 AM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

Passengers plying the Barra-Banjul ferry could not contain their shock at seeing a middle-aged man die a sudden death, following what many described as an avoidable accident at the Barra ferry terminal.

Lamin Darboe, sports editor of the Foroyaa newspaper and treasurer of the Sports Journalists Association of the Gambia (SJAG), died in the accident after his four-wheel land cruiser vehicle plunged headlong from the ferry into the river, shortly before the ferry depart for Banjul.

He was said to be on his way to Banjul, back from his home village of Bakindick in Niumi district in the North Bank Region, where he observed this year’s Tobaski feast with his family.

The rescue workers at the ferry terminal in Barra were once again tested for their readiness as they were overwhelmed by the incident for several hours, while onlookers wondered if the workers were really primed for such an eventuality.

The accident occurred on Saturday morning, and engaged the rescue workers throughout the day until Sunday morning, when the body was finally recovered from the river in Essau.

Eyewitnesses gave contradictory statements about how the accident happened. While some said it occurred when Darboe was instructed by a man believed to be working in the ferry to move his vehicle which was already parked forward, when there was no barrier to stop any vehicle from plunging overboard, others claimed there was in fact a cable or chain for that purpose.

When contacted to shed light on the incident, Halifa Bah, the director of Operations Ferry Services described it as unfortunate, adding that this was the first of its kind in the history of the Gambia.

"I can't imagine what happened leading to the decease's vehicle falling into the river, because there is a barrier," Bah said.

It might have been as a result of the vehicle's "break failure, as there was a barrier", Mr. Bah told our reporter in an interview yesterday.

Bah added that the entire management of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) was shocked by the sudden death of Lamin A. Darboe, and announced that the GPA management will meet today to look into the situation, so as to avoid any further occurrence of such.  

Lamin Darboe, who was recently elected into the executive committee of SJAG, is a qualified teacher with PTC and HTC certificates.

Ba Ansu Darboe, father of the deceased, confirmed to our reporter that the body of the late Darboe was found yesterday morning in the river at Essau.

He told this reporter in a telephone interview that the body was immediately taken to the Fire and Rescue Service premises in Barra, before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital for a post-mortem.

Sam Sarr, the managing editor of Foroyaa newspaper, described the late Darboe as a gentleman with a calm character, who also enjoyed a good relationship with everybody within the Foroyaa family.

"I received the news of Darboe's demise from secondary sources on Saturday morning at around 11.30am, but what is certain is that the incident occurred when his vehicle plunged into the river at the Barra ferry terminal," Sarr told this reporter in a telephone interview yesterday.

According to him, the news was received with great sadness by everybody at Foroyaa, where Darboe had a strong relationship with everyone at his workplace.

During his time as a member of the SJAG, according to Sainabou Kujabi, president of the association ,the late Darboe was an active sports reporter as manifested by the services he rendered in sports development at various levels.

Kujabi, who described the news of Darboe's demise as shocking, added that his memory will remain in the hearts of his media colleagues forever.

"I came to know Darboe since 1998, during our days with Radio Gambia as roving reporters for Sports Roundup under the leadership of Peter Gomez," Pa Modou Faal, auditor of the SJAG said.

"Despite been a qualified teacher, Darboe has devoted all his life to sports journalism where his significant contribution is considered to be one of the driving forces behind the country's success in sports reporting in various disciplines."

According to Faal, Darboe's legacy should not be allowed to die as he has done extremely well for Gambian sports, especially at the community and the grassroots levels.

Darboe is survived by a wife and three children.