The north bank of The Gambia is cut of from the Banjul, the capital city, by the river and residents who have business in Banjul have to cross the ferry sometimes on a daily basis.
The people who come from Senegal to buy goods in Banjul also cross through this point and that makes it a very important point in the country. It brings in a lot of revenue and that is why it is very significant.
However, the fact that the ferries are either too old and/or are not in a good condition makes it extremely difficult for the people who make the journey. Sometimes, people spend the whole day either in Banjul or Barra waiting to cross.
Besides, the bad condition of the ferries has other challenges as well. For instance, if the ferry has engine problems at sea, passengers spend hours on end without reaching their destinations.
Sometimes, the time that is wasted results in loss of life as was seen a few months ago when the ferry had a problem and spent hours without reaching Banjul. Unfortunately, there was an ambulance carrying a patient who ended up dying at sea.
With the amount of revenue generated by these ferries, the Gambia Ports Authority should not wait till the ferries are totally dead before replacing them. But as always, maintenance is one of the main challenges facing us.
Maintenance is important as otherwise whatever ferry is bought will just be a white elephant.