Major Lamin K. Sanyang, the spokesperson of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) confirmed the development to The Point yesterday during an exclusive interview.
The Gambia Ports Authority last week announced that the ferries operating between the terminals of Banjul and Barra will suspend operations for the period of 30 days. This, according to them, is for the installation of the new landers for the terminals.
PRO Sanyang said: “Since the commencement of the operations on Wednesday 21 October 2020, personnel of the Gambia Navy have conducted several emergency evacuations of patients from Barra to Banjul as part of emergency services they are currently rendering at the two crossing points. A total of one patient per day on average has been evacuated by personnel of the Navy since last Thursday.”
According to Sanyang, a joint committee was constituted comprising the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA) and other security services including the Gambia Navy to plan and ensure the smooth and safe transportation of persons and their properties across Banjul and Barra.
“Each of the institutions on the committee has been assigned roles and responsibilities to ensure the realisation of these objectives. The initiative comes on the heels of a halt in operations of the ferries at these important crossing points due to repairs being carried out on the ramps at the ferry terminals in Banjul and Barra.”
The Gambia Navy, Sanyang added, is tasked with the enforcement of GMA regulations by providing secure and safe crossing for people by ensuring among other things, that passengers boarding the boats wear life jackets; that the boats are not overloaded and that cargo and passengers are not mixed together.
“The Navy also creates a manifest of all boarding and disembarking boat passengers as well as details of boats arriving and departing at each of the crossing points. This is to ensure that all passengers are accounted for at any given time and also in case of an emergency.”
The Gambia Navy, he continued, is also on standby to provide medical evacuation (medevac) and casualty evacuation (casevac) as well as to conduct search and rescue missions as and when necessary. “These services are equally provided by the Navy at all crossing points throughout the country in Tanji, Kartong, Bintang, Kalaji, Janjanbureh and Basse.”
“Since the halt in the operations of the ferries and also to deal with the upsurge in the number of passengers compared to the available canoes, the Navy has also increased its personnel and operations at both crossing points. In a separate but related development, on Saturday 24 October 2020, personnel of the Navy joined the communities around the terminal to clean the river banks.”
Mr. Sanyang, consequently, said it may be instructive to state that these activities amongst others are mandated by the Gambia Navy Act 1996.