Regular commuters on the Banjul-Barra Ferry route have called on the Gambia Ferry Services (GFS) to implement its proposed 24-hour ferry service to ensure efficient crossing at the country’s busiest terminals.
GFS General Manager Lamin Jawara disclosed a plan to operate 24-hour ferry services at the Banjul-Barra crossing point to ensure effective and efficient transportation of goods and services within the route.
Speaking to The Point exclusively, Lamin B. Sonko, a regular commuter at the Banjul-Barra ferry route described the proposed 24-hour services as timely and urgently needed, saying it can have a great impact on residents of the North Bank and Central River Regions.
He justified that if the plan is implemented, commuters would cross at any given time.
Sonko, also a renowned sign language interpreter, said he often encounters challenges in reaching Niumi for interpretations due to the crossing point. He said sometimes if deaf people have issues at Niumi such as police cases or family matters, they would invite him for interpretation but if it is late in the hours, he would not cross as the ferries had closed.
“So, as far as I am concerned, if the ferries operate for 24 hours, it is going to help me and the people of Niumi, Jokadu, Badibou districts, and people of the Central River Region.”
“Having a District Health Centre at Essau is a matter of concern because sometimes medical personnel cannot refer patients to Banjul on time, most especially if the ferries close. This can endanger lives. So, the 24-hour services plan is needed,” he said.
Therefore, he called on the government to implement the proposed 24-hour services with urgency, while saying the “idea is good” in terms of people’s health situation and the economy.
Amat Ceesay, a truck driver, said there is a need for ferries to implement the proposed 24-hour operational services, adding the plan would help truck drivers to cross without spending much time at terminals.
“It would be of benefit to both truck drivers and the state,” he said.
He justified that sometimes a truck driver who loads perishable products such as vegetables would lose their products as a result of spending much time at the ferry terminals.
“Sometime drivers would load perishable products and spend much time here (terminal). That often spoil their products,” he said.
“Therefore, if that plan (24-hour services) happens, it would help sell our products before they get spoiled and the products would benefit us and the consumers as well,” he said.
Mr. Ceesay said sometimes he would spend nights at the ferry terminals so that he could cross very early the following morning. However, he is optimistic that if the plan is implemented, commuters especially drivers will stop spending nights at the terminals.
“Therefore, we want authorities to help and implement the plan,” he urged.
Matarr Saho, another truck driver said: “If the plan is implemented, it would help us because sometimes if I come here (Banjul Terminal) and find the place congested with vehicles, I have to return and use the Senegambia Bridge.
He noted that passing through the Banjul-Barra crossing point is easier and closer for him, but sometimes he has to travel through the south bank to avoid wasting time at Banjul-Barra.
“If authorities implement the plan and all the three ferries continue plying, it would help us (commuters),” he said, while urging the government to implement the plan.