By Alagie Manneh
A spokesperson of the Gambia Ports Authority has explained that one of their vessels, the Johe, stranded at sea last week, had an engine failure.
The ferry got stuck in the middle of the sea last Friday evening with passengers and people on board, causing great alarm and panic.
Popular online news site What’s On Gambia reported that the vessel was stuck in the rocks for many hours.
Speaking to The Standard on the matter Sunday, GPA spokesperson Yankuba Manneh confirmed the Johe had set sail from Banjulto Barra when it experienced failure in one of the engines.
“It lost one engine power amid high wind and hostile currents. Those ecological conditions drifted the ferry towards the rocky areas around Fort Burlen into the rocks,” he explained.
In respect of maritime laws, Mr Manneh went on, all other vessels within the vicinity dropped their activities to go to the rescue of the distressed vessel. “It was then that the Kanilai and Kunta Kinteh attempted a rescue which the distressed passengers didn’t understand. They thought that the other ferries were also in a similar problem. It was then realised that the ferry cannot be rescued as there was low tides around it. They then resorted to calling up the Fire Services who also used small boats to beef up our rescue effort, but all attempts went in vain,” he lamented.
He said it was then that passengers were transferred to another vessel leaving the cargo and vehicles which couldn’t be evacuated that quick like the passengers.
“We prioritised the passengers first and we ended up leaving the ferry there until the next day, a Saturday when the tide was high and the vessel could float naturally. At around 9pm, it was salvaged and docked at Barra where the vehicle owners identified and collected their vehicles,” Mr Manneh said.
He concluded that technicians were able to fix the engine issue on the spot but not withstanding, investigations have started to establish the true cause of the incident.
The ferry services management, he said, is doing everything to ensure that such incidents are averted. “There will be a management meeting to look into the matter,” he concluded.