Kunta Kinteh, a brand new ferry was commissioned yesterday by President Adama Barrow at the Banjul sea port in a colorful ceremony.
The ferry has a capacity of 2000 passengers; 27 cars and 4 trucks, 3 floor passenger and state-of-the-art navigational aid including firefighting equipment devices for passengers.
Speaking on the occasion, President Barrow first reflected on personal bad experience of the state of ferry services, saying his campaign team faced great challenges when they used the crossing point to reach the North Bank Region during last year’s election campaign. He said, given that personal experience and more importantly watching at close range the huge number of people making the difficult journey with great risk and discomfort, he made a pledge – a personal commitment to the people of Niumi that when he is elected President, his administration will provide modern facilities and services to end the nightmare associated with the Banjul-Barra crossing.
According to him, it is in this regard that his government rapidly provided the necessary support for the timely delivery and inauguration of the modern ferry.
“While the commissioning of the new ferry today will surely alleviate the present state of the poor ferry services, I am fully aware that it will not adequately provide the required level of service the travelling community deserves”, he admitted but added that, nonetheless this is rather one of the many steps they will take to address the challenges confronting the commuters using this crossing.
“My conviction to this commitment is still strong and God willing my Government will not relent until we provide an adequate solution to the problem,” he stated.
“Clearly, the significant contribution of the Banjul-Barra crossing points to the socio-economic development of our country cannot be overemphasized,” he went on, adding: “As one major linkage between the South and the North Bank, it is greatly utilized by people of all walks of life, Gambians and Non-Gambians alike”. “Unfortunately, improving the facilities and services on this popular crossing point has remained elusive all these years”.
This he noted, has not only significantly slowed down the economic activities both within and outside the country, but also directly affected the livelihood of all Gambians who spent unreasonable hours to get to the other side of the river bank.
Barrow said his Government believes in free movement of goods and services and therefore the transformation and expansion of the Port is part of his government’s top priorities and for this transformation to be meaningful, creating a more efficient access between Banjul and Barra and other crossing points is critical.
“As we pursue the development agenda, for the transformation of our ‘New Gambia’ into a modern state, we will provide the adequate support required to upgrade and modernize the Banjul Shipyard, which is essential for the maintenance of the ferries and other crafts”, he concluded.
Abdoulie Tambedou, Gambia Ports Authority Managing Director said the commissioning shows their demonstration and commitment to provide safer and more reliable ferry services to the public.
He added that the new ferry will alleviate the burden capacity constraints being experienced between Barra and Banjul crossing point as well as enhance the capacity of the ports to be able to deliver safe and efficient ferry services for the continuous socio-economic development of the country.
He said they will continue to rely on Barrow and his government’s support in their bid to make the ports a centre of excellence.
He announced that a contract has been finalized for the delivery of a new 47-ton boat with improved financial terms with Damen shipyard.
Mustapha Colley, Chairman GPA Board of Directors, said of late traveling between Barra and Banjul has been challenging which has negative impact on the social and economic activities of the people of the country.
He appealed for government support in “entering into similar arrangements to enable the acquiring of other equipment as well as the rehabilitation of the Banjul shipyard as it is important to have a functional shipyard for the longevity of the ferries.”