By Omar Bah
The director general of Gambia Maritime Administration has confirmed to The Standard yesterday that his office is in receipt of an application from a Turkish company, Negmar Shipping Investment Corporation, to operate ferry services over the Banjul-Barra crossing.
The plan, which is still under review by the Gambia Maritime Administration, is not supported by the Gambia Ferry Services management, who has reportedly reached out to President Adama Barrow to complain about it.
The Ministry of Works and Transport wants to sign a Joint Venture Agreement for the management and operation of ferries with the Turkish company.
The agreement will reportedly include downsizing of all the departments at the ferry services which will send 200 staff home. The Standard is in receipt of the application letter signed by the Gambia Ports Authority, GPA addressed to the director general of Gambia Maritime Administration.
The letter submitted by Abdoulie Gai on behalf of the Turkish company reads: “Reference to the above-mentioned subject matter, I Hali Abdoulie Gai hereby makes submission of the following documents in support of Negmar’s application for permit to operate ferries between Banjul and Barra.” The submitted documents include – Gambia Ferry Project (business plan), Gambia Ferry Operation, Document of Compliance and Turkish Trade Registry.
When contacted for comments, the Gambia Maritime Administration DG, Karamo Janneh confirmed receiving the letter.
“We are now looking at their documents to ascertain whether their ferries are okay or not. There are a whole lot of issues that we have to verify – so whatever we do, we do with total care so that we would be able to advise the government correctly,” Janneh told The Standard yesterday. DG Janneh said the documents are currently with the Maritime technical department. “In whatever we are doing, we will consider the interest of the country first because if we give advice to the government to award the contract and something bad happens, we will have to take responsibility,” he said.
However, DG Janneh made it clear that his office doesn’t grant licenses to businesses. “We only stop at advising the government to ensure that the vessels that operate in our waters are safe and sound,” he said.