By Lamin Cham
The Gambia Ferries Services, a subsidiary of the Gambia Ports Authority, has for the first time got its own General Manager. He is Lamin Jawara, 45, a marine engineer who until his appointment Friday was Officer- In Charge of Ferries.
Jawara, the only Gambian chartered marine engineer, served 24 years at Ferries rising through the ranks from cadet engineer, manager, and director of technical among other positions.
Following the demise of the former OIC, Jammeh, a few months ago, Jawara was appointed OIC, and on Friday, April 9 he was appointed General Manager, the first in the history of the institution.
Contacted by The Standard on how to improve the services of the ferries across the many crossing points on the River Gambia, Jawara said he and his team would continue stabilising the service by making the three boats on the Banjul-Barra route regularly available and in good shape. ”Already, we have increased the operational hours of the boats (6 am to 11 PM from the older 7 am to 9 PM schedule). We have also fixed an hourly departure schedule on the Banjul end of the route, which has the biggest traffic and would soon have one from the Barra end too. We also increased the tonnage from 30 to 50 tons with a realizable plan to increase it to 60. All these have led to maximizing of revenue of up to 25 percent in the last few months alone,” the new GM said.
Asked about his plans and priorities, Jawara said the top priority is to get a new ferry while keeping the Kanilai, Johe, and Kunta Kinteh in good condition and service in addition to maintaining the provincial fleet.
“With the building of the Sene-Gambia Bridge the boats there have been deployed to the three crossing points in the provinces, Jangjangbureh Island, Basse-Wuli, and Fatoto-Basse. Our vision is to keep this provincial fleet to standard at all times,” he said.
Mr Jawara said there are strong plans to open new ferry crossing points on the River Gambia, notably the Kartong-Kaabajo crossing which links Gambia and Casamance in Senegal.
“This place is a very important crossing that would also boost transit trade and even tourism,” Jawara noted.
Lamin Jawara comes from Kerewan and holds a BSc and master’s degree in marine engineering specializing in marine technology. He briefly worked in the New York ferry services in the US but decided to return to The Gambia in the wake of the Ferry Lander crisis last year.
Mr. Jawara led a team to replace the Landers in a shorter space of time than projected to allow ferry services to resume.