#Article (Archive)

Much to do about our ferry services

Dec 1, 2014, 9:35 AM

Just barely one year six months after ferry tickets were inflated by at least 50 per cent, they are set again for another increment in a month’s time.

The management of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) Ferry Services has indicated in a statement that they will increase the cost of ferry tickets, with effect from 1st January 2015.

This new increment will see the cost of tickets hiking by at least 60 per cent across all ferry crossing points for “Gambian customers”.It was not even explained who are these “Gambian customers”.

The main reason for this impromptu increment is the “huge investment” on rehabilitation of the two main ferries at the Banjul-Barra crossing point, as well as the ferries in the provinces.

We are not oblivious of the fact that when the ferries are not in good shape as they were – totally dilapidated due to lack of maintenance - crossing becomes a nightmare. The smooth and easy crossing of people, goods and services becomes extra-tedious due to the snail’s speed of the ferries.

Therefore, doing a thorough maintenance on the ferries is good as it will greatly enhance the movement of the ferries and ensure the safety of the people onboard.

However, the maintenance of the ferries and increase in fuel and spare parts do not warrant increment of up to 60 per cent – this is definitely on the high side.

The ferries were not going to need such total maintenance costing “huge investment” - which is passed on to the people through the tariff increment – had they been getting regular maintenance.

In other words they should periodically be checked and always kept in good shape, rather than wait until things get worse before proper maintenance is rolled out.

The management of the ferry services should institutionalise a regular maintenance scheme for the ferries, to manage them from wear and tear due to usage and age.

In any case, the rate of increment means a lot to the pocket of the man who survives from hand to mouth, hence the increment should be reconsidered.

“The fundamental problem with program maintenance is that fixing a defect has a substantial chance of introducing another.”

Fred Brooks