Ferry Service to buy new ferry

Aug 23, 2021, 12:22 PM | Article By: Sulayman Waan

Lamin Jawara, general manager of Gambia Ferry Service (GFS) – a subsidiary of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), has revealed that the GPA is currently working on purchasing a new ferry that would travel from Banjul to Barra.

Three ferries that are currently travelling between Banjul and Barra crossing points include: Johe, Kanalai and Kunta Kinteh. The Johe Ferry has the capacity to carry about 14 vehicles and 400 passengers; Kanalai carries 25 vehicles and 600 passengers, while Kunta Kinteh carries 29 vehicles and 2000 passengers.

However, the government wants to purchase a new ferry to ensure effective and efficient transportation of goods and services within the seven kilometer (7KM) crossing points.

Speaking to The Point, Mr. Jawara said: “Getting a new ferry would make transportation of goods and services more efficient and people will enjoy faster services between Banjul and Barra.”

He added: “As at now, we operate two ferries at a time and one ferry on standby, but if we have a fourth one, then we can stick to the hourly departure of ferries that we are running on trial so that every hour a ferry will depart from Banjul and from Barra as well.”

Jawara explained that his institution is putting strategies in place to make sure every hour a ferry departs from each of the two terminals; whether it is full to capacity or not. This, he said, will make commuters cross without wasting much time at the terminals.

The GFS spent about nine million Euros on the Kunta Kinteh Ferry and now plans to purchase a ferry of almost the same size.

Government had previously announced purchasing a new ferry and asked business persons to file interest in supplying the government with a ferry.

Currently, some local and international business persons have expressed their interest to supply a ferry to the government.

Mr. Jawara is not sure how much the proposed ferry would cost. He said the price of this type of ferry could be similar to Kunta Kinteh’s cost but also could be cheaper than it depending on the financial arrangement. 

“Once you have a good ferry and the integrity of the ferry is stable, of course you will expect commuters to cross quicker,” he said.  

                             On possible river transport

Mr. Jawara said the Gambia Ferry Services is currently conducting a feasibility study to see whether there is a viable market for river transport in the country.

However, he said: “GFS has approached stakeholders, especially the GPA and Gambia government to give it the opportunity to venture into river transport. In fact, that is one of the strategic areas that GFS is looking into in terms of future operations.”

When asked whether the Senegambia would be an obstacle for river transport. He said that bridge has about 18.5 meters of air draft. This, he said, is a sufficient air draft for river transport.

“So, we can transport cargo with a few containers under the bridge,” he noted.

He assured that GFS is working harder to ensure effective and efficient ferry transport in the country while urging all to maintain patience.