Mr Ceesay, who spoke recently to The Point at the Gambia Trade Union Bureau Office in Kanifing, said the Gambia government should intensify efforts to improve the operations of both the ferries and the port. He equally called on the management of the Gambia Ports Authority to work hard to improve port operations.
“The ferries are always overloaded with vehicles coupled with high passenger tariffs,” he said, adding: “Barra terminal is very difficult to operate.”
Mr Ceesay also advised government to be very cautious and careful in implementing such a deal, adding that the port is the main gateway to The Gambia for importing goods into the country.
He gave the rationale behind the country’s losing out in having ships loaded with valuable goods docked at her port: “If goods that are supposed to come through Banjul port are going through Senegal, there must be reasons, and one of the reasons is the charges and the other is the tariffs, which is definitely affecting our port.
“If the services in The Gambia are not as reliable and efficient as in Senegal, obviously, ship owners would go to Senegal because ship is all about turnaround. If your turnaround is good, you make more money, if your turnaround is low, then you make losses.”
Mr Ceesay further said that if ships coming to The Gambia would have to spend 10 days waiting to dock at the port, “obviously the ship owners would prefer to go to Dakar where they will not spend even 24 hours to dock and get their goods unloaded”.
According to him, the low tide in The Gambia also contributes to ship owners prefer going to Senegal to coming to The Gambia, “because if a vessel is heavily loaded, it may not be able to dock at the port when there is low tide”.
Added Mr Ceesay: “The other issue that also contributes to ships not coming to The Gambia is the lack of enough goods, because they prefer to be fully loaded before coming to The Gambia.”
He further opined: “All these happen due to lack of efficient management and giving unnecessary excuses. The ports has been here since 1974 and there are lots of operations going on at the port and during these operations, the soil moves and when it moves, it can also affect the operation of the ships because too much sand at the pot sometimes causes ships to be grounded whenever they try to come in or go out. So, the reality is that let us have enough equipment at the port to let good work goes on effectively there.”