By: Modou Touray
Residents of Barra, Essau, Albreda and other settlements in the Lower and Upper Nuimi have expressed concerns over fewer ferries plying Banjul-Barra. They said their daily livelihood and movement in the Greater Banjul Area are being affected.
They are urging authorities to provide a 24-hour uninterrupted ferry services so that they can undertake their routine business and other engagements on time.
Ferry service starts at 7am and closes at 11pm. This stipulated time is making many business people to confine their activities according to the ferry schedule.
Ferry services operate along the River Gambia, connecting the northern and southern parts of the Gambia.
“We cannot freely commute to Banjul. Sometimes, ferries will not be available on schedule and that affect our businesses,” Fana Chorr, a resident of Barra said.
Kadri Sowe and Alhagie Bah, both owned a fashion shop in Banjul at the Albert Market. They commute daily from their village in Essa. “We open our shop by 8am but if we missed the first ferry, customers keep waiting for us. Most often, we have to wait for almost an hour at the Barra terminal for the ferry. Its takes another hour to get to Banjul. That is a 2-hour period to get to Banjul,” they expressed.
Kunta Kinteh ferry is one of the ferries plying Banjul-Barra with a capacity of 718 passenger seats, about 2,000 people, 27 cars, 4 trucks. It got a breakdown earlier, but after maintenance, it has resumed operations fully.
“I carry my vegetables to Serekunda market for wholesale but whenever I am delayed by the ferry, I don’t make much sales. Women normally do their shopping in the morning to cook, therefore, if I reach the market late, I don’t make much profit,” Mbayan Fye lamented.
The ferry terminals in Banjul and Barra are one of the few ferry crossing points in the country, hence most of the crossing points have a bridge now.
“I am a civil servant who commute to Banjul from Monday to Friday. Although I travel with my car from Kerewan, sometimes, I arrive late at work. The ferry services should be 24hours, because in cases of emergency, you need to wait for the ferries to start operations,” Mr Edrisa Cesay explained.
Although foreign travellers from Northern Senegal now use the Senegambia bridge in Farafenni to cross over to cassamance and beyond, the demand is still high. Lower and upper Nuimi, Jokadou and lower Baddibu mostly use the Banjul-Barra route.
“Five to six ferries are needed as movement should not be interrupted. If you need to fly at night, you will have to cross earlier prior to your flight departure” Lamin Joof, a US based Barra indigen said.
The ferry service is situated at the heart of the nation’s marine facility to serve and connect local commuters.