Despite the challenges faced by the management, such as ferry repairs and ports cargo-handling capacity, the management has been able to weather the storm by raising huge amount of funds to the tune of 6 million euros to meet ferry repairs and procurement of new engines, which in most cases have to be manufactured from abroad and shipped to the country to fix up ferry engines and get them up and running.
“We hope that in the coming six weeks, the travelling public will benefit by way of improved services at the ferry terminal to complement the Johe ferry services. So we expect that by mid this year the services along the Banjul-Barra road will have improved,” GPA deputy MD said.
The GPA management needs to be encouraged as it has not only worked hard toimprove ferry services in the country and achieved record performance with limited capacity in handling two million metric tonnes of cargo last year, but has also put in place a strategic plan to expand the land area and other facilities at the port to accommodate more cargos or containers and generate more revenue for government.
“We have reached the one hundred thousand container mark, and there is rule of tonnage in shipping that if you reach one hundred thousand it calls for investment in capacity, and our main challenge is to acquire more property at Half-die to extend the port,” the GPA management said.
These are strides that need a pat on the back, so the management would be encouraged to do more as they serve the nation.
We are aware of the fact that the ports management and government have been trying very hard to get standard and durable ferries for this country.
Thus efforts in that direction should continue till we get more durable ferries to meet the needs of our teeming number of people that use the ferry crossing points each year.
For instance, the year that just ended, about 586,050 passengers and 28,113 vehicles used the Banjul-Barra ferry crossing point.
These developments necessitate the procurement of more durable ferries from countries like Turkey, Germany and Korea, which are widely known for manufacturing good ferry vessels.
Another aspect the GPA should also be considering is reviving and or establishing the sea route link with other countries in the sub-region, such as Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana, among others, to facilitate trade between The Gambia and these countries, which will generate exponential growth rate in revenue for the country .
There could be teething problems or some obstacles in embarking on such ventures, but progress and success come only by overcoming challenges.
So we advise the GPA and, by extension, the government to give these issues a rethink and a try.
Meanwhile, we say kudos to the GPA for its efforts at obviating passenger constraints through its ferry repair strides, safety concern and mechanism, as well as for registering record cargo rate turnover.
“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”George S. Patton