The managing director of the Gambia Ferry Services, Lamin Jawara, has announced the introduction of a new ‘premium service’ for the ferries. The new service provides special treatment for vehicle owners who don’t have to take the stress of queuing at the Banjul or Barra crossing points.
“The Premium Service is basically an expedited service for vehicles crossing between Banjul and Barra. We initiated it because we think it is beneficial for the customers as a ferry service,” MD Jawara told The Standard.
He said though the management is working on making the premium ticket digital, it is only accessible for now, at the Banjul and Barra ferry terminals.
“We have already started the trials and hopefully by the second quarter of 2023, we will be able to complete it,” he added.
According to Mr Jawara, the new service is expected to boost revenue for the ferries.
“Ferry operation everywhere in the world is very expensive. So as a result, providing this premium service in a way is going to provide the much-needed revenue to make the ferries sustainable and it’s for the few who require the service while others continue to ride along the standard ferry fares. The service is not new in the transportation industry like the airlines have business and economic class. It is the same flight but then the ticket prices are different,” he said.
He said the new service will not mean that others who don’t need it will be segregated.
“For example, the premium ticket holders are allowed to board the ferry first and before those with the standard tickets. That way the customer that pays the premium service is assured of value for money but at the same time those paying the standard fares will also ride along and to make it a bit equitable, we have allocated only six premium holders per ferry because we want to be fair,” he added.
He said the ferries has made a commitment to depend on its revenue for sustainability.
“We want to depend on our own revenue to sustain ourselves because the ferry service is not subsidised by the government. Previously, the GPA was subventing us but we believe the GPA is a public institution and should use its resources to develop itself,” he added.
CFA fare controversy
Commenting on the controversy surrounding the ferry’s decision to collect CFA, MD Jawara said it came as a result of a bilateral agreement between Senegal and The Gambia.
“We may not go into details in this interview but this has been agreed and also for the purpose of internal controls for the ferry services, it is always better to charge Senegalese registered vehicles CFA because if you don’t, you create unnecessary challenges for those Senegalese vehicles because they come into the country with CFA. So if you want to charge them in dalasi, they have to go through the stress of changing the CFA into dalasi. So, for us our preference is for Senegalese vehicles to pay in CFA and until we have a better way of administering it, it is better to leave it this way,” he said. He said Gambian registered vehicles are not charged in CFA.