Ferries top officials stated this disquiet as Kunta Kinteh Ferry’s propellers were trapped with a fishing net and shut down engines completely. Ferry administrators have described such incidents as common along the busiest ferry route in The Gambia.
Nevertheless, the ferry resumed within hours after official intervention.
Speaking in a press conference on Friday at Banjul Ferry Terminal, Lamin Jawara, general manager for GFS said: “On Wednesday the Kunta Kinteh ferry was incapacitated at mid sea. All the engines were shut down and the ferry was unable to move on its own. This happened because the propellers were entangled with fishing nets.”
He said the ferry finally landed and all passengers disembarked safely but argued that: “This has been a frequent occurrence and we hold this media briefing in order to sensitise the public to ensure fishing activities are not done along the ferry route.”
Jawara said fishing nets' frequent entanglement with ferries is causing negative impacts on ferry services.
Mr. Jawara acknowledged that the fishing industry contributes immensely to the country’s socio economic growth but urged fishermen to fish responsibly so that they save ferries from damages along the route.
Breakdown of ferries plying the Banjul-Barra Crossing Point could cause economic impact on GFS and delay its operations. This could affect transportation of goods and services as well.
Meanwhile, Jawara said GFS would engage necessary stakeholders such as the Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA), Department of Fisheries, Navy, National Environmental Agency (NEA) as well as residents of Banjul and Barra to prevent reoccurrence of such incidents.
Francis Gomez, director of Technical Services for GFS said: “Actually this has been going very frequently. And almost every week, we have to call a diver to dive these ferries, either to remove the nets or ropes that are entangled to the ferries and this delays operation of the ferries.”
He explained that sometimes commuters would come to the ferry terminals and meet officials removing nets or rope from ferries, adding some commuters would be impatient awaiting ferry departure.
“This is causing lots of things and definitely it is very important for the information to be out for people to know and understand. It is not our wish to delay,” he said.
Pa Dawda Sanyang, acting director of Operations for ferries, called on fishermen to desist from putting their nets along ferries’ routes to avoid nets entangled with ferries.
He said such incidents could cause serious damage, delay as well as huge financial cost to GFS for maintenance and purchase of equipment.
“On this occasion, we are lucky because the ferry is able to resume service within hours of intervention. On some occasions, if we are unfortunate, it can cause the ferry to be laid off for a long period,” he said.