As I have said before, the Gambia Ports Authority is the worst service provider in this country. The Authority has repeatedly failed, woefully for that matter, to offer satisfactory services to the people of the country. The people of North Bank Region are almost cut-off from the rest of the country and find it very difficult to come to Banjul. This is a form of injustices which is harming the economy of the nation.
Last week, I traveled to the provinces and while returning, I spent more than two hours just to reach Banjul from Barra – a distance not more than four miles. This was because the ferry was not plying the sea. The only reason given by officials of the GPA is that there was low tide and that the ferry will not be able to dock safely. So, I had to join the boats like hundreds of others in the same ilk.
Now, I read in the local newspapers yesterday that because of this problem of low tide, the schedule of the ferries will change for the next week or so. According to the new schedule, the first ferry from Banjul will now leave at five thirty in the morning while the one from Barra will leave at six o’clock. Then the ferries will be out of service till 18:45. This means that during the whole day, people will be packed there without having the chance to cross, safely. The only option will be to board the rickety boats which is really not safe.
Mr President, this is not a new problem. It has been here for the past fifty-two or so years. All three government since independence have failed the people of the North Bank Region as if they are a separate country all together. No one from any other region in the Gambia suffers as much as the people of North Bank Region just to come to Banjul or the Kombos. Naturally, Banjul being the capital city of the nation – with most government services not decentralized – people from all the regions regularly have to come to the city for one reason or the other. The time being wasted by the people of the NBR just to come to Banjul could have been used productively to make money which will benefit the country.
It Is unfathomable that the Ports Authority bought these ferries without doing a feasibility study to understand what they need in order to operate efficiently. If this was done, they would have known that work needed to be done at the landing areas to ensure that whether there is low or high tide, the ferries will still be able to berth. Had Gambia Ports Authority properly managed the amount of money they collect from passengers and vehicles every day, they would have solved this problem long time ago.
As it stands, what we observe in the operations of the Authority points to either one of two things: ineptitude or economic mismanagement. If the Authority cannot run the ferries efficiently, a separate entity called Gambia Ferry Service should be created. This will be independent of the Ports Authority. Or, it could be placed under another government agency. Both these options failing, there should be a probe into the activities of the Ports Authority and the leadership sacked if found wanting. The people of North Bank Region are part and parcel of the country and should not be left behind in the development process.
Something needs to be done, and fast!
Have a Good day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen