By Louise Jobe
Scores of Gambians who ply the Kun-Barra crossing point in Niamina, have bemoaned the challenges they grapple with at the said crossing point.
Foroyaa is made to understand that a former crossing point used by the ferry was Jessadi village but this has now been transferred to another area near the village of Sinchu Njugaari. The crossing point is also used by local canoes to transport passengers to and from Niamina Dankunku in the south bank to Kaur Wharf town in Saloum, in the northern bank of the Central River Region.
On Thursday July 1st 2021, this reporter visited the crossing point to affirm the complaints from a number of people who use the site to cross to either bank of the country, to do business and take care of their work.
Lamin Baldeh, a commercial motorcycle rider, said there is a short distance where people walk to reach the ferry or canoe, in order to get on board. But during the rainy season, flood water covers the whole of this short distance space knee deep in water, causing tremendous difficulties for commuters who use the area, to access the ferry or local canoes.
Fatoumatta Jallow, a vendor from Kaur Wharf town who sells breakfast at this crossing point, said during the rainy season, the area gets flooded in such a way that it causes tremendous difficulties for travellers to access the ferry or canoes to and from Niamina Dankunku and Kaur Wharf town in Saloum. She urged Government, NGOs and other philanthropists to come to their aid.
Musa Ceesay, a resident of Jessadi village and horse cart driver, said the situation is serious and causes a negative impact on their lives and livelihoods.
“Both vehicle drivers, motorcyclists and we the horse cart owners and commuters, face the same difficulties,” he said. Ceesay said passengers are dropped off at a distance for them to walk knee deep in water, to reach the ferry or canoes with their luggage; that some women even carry their children on their backs with luggage on their heads to cross this flooded short distance space.
Mariama Kandeh, who also hails from Kaur, expressed similar remarks and appealed for some urgent and immediate solution to remedy this situation that they have been living with for years.
Sarja Susso and Musa Ceesay, both badge messengers of the Chief of Niamina Dankunku who are assigned to control the crossing point, lamented the lack of waiting shed for commuters on either side of the river bank.
According to Sarja Susso, passengers get soaked with their luggage during bad weather conditions, causing horse and donkey cart owners to seek refuge in the comfort of their homes until the situation passes; that this leaves commuters without any other option but to stay and wait for the ferry or canoe, in order to cross. He said ‘the conditions are terrible each time the rains fall.
He urged Government to take this matter seriously and remedy the situation immediately, before it is too late.
According to Sarja, the crossing point is the shortest route that connects Niamina and Saloum District in the southern and northern banks of C.R.R., respectively.
Both Sarja and Musa suggested the building of a local raft on the southern shore of the river bank to help people get easy access to canoes and ferry services, because the southern bank is worse than the northern side.