Rtd. GFS director advises government not to privatize ferries

Mr. Ceesay made the statement in an interview with Point recently at the Trade Union Office headquarters in Kanifing. He said ferry service to any country; especially in the particular situation of The Gambia which is divided into north and south by the Gambia River is a social function.

He described ferry services in The Gambia as a social necessity, saying they ensure the movement of people from coast to coast.

He lamented the current poor situation of ferry services, which he said is causing serious inconvenience to passengers; and thus called on the current management to do more to alleviate the difficulties faced by passengers at ferry crossing points.

“Unlike road transport, ferries are subject to different operating conditions: rough seas, high winds and other marine perils, and as such, ferries must always be in a satisfactory state of repair and seaworthiness taking into account the lives and properties that ferries handle daily.

“It is not a small problem and there must be professional efficiency in the management of these ferries. Regular maintenance must be established. The ferries must have a regular maintenance schedule (engineering and structural) so that they are seaworthy at all times and that safety is guaranteed.

“Set a ferry schedule so people know when there is service and when there isn’t.”

“The government should support the management to ensure a vibrant ferry service across the country.

Mr Ceesay said Point that it has a large reserve for the types of engines used with current ferries. However, he points out that the engines and shuttle systems of the Banjul and Nuimi ferries were much more efficient and reliable.

“I consider the nature of the (artificial) approach channel at Barra, maintenance dredging should be carried out at all times to ensure the safety of ferries and passengers on board.”

Mr. Ceesay recalled that during his tenure, he had opposed the World Bank’s recommendation to privatize the ferries because of their social functions and therefore their privatization could pose a security risk.

“The government bought my argument and decided not to privatize it, but made the biggest mistake by merging it with the GPTC, which led to a disaster for the ferries and GPA had to start all over again.”

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