President Barrow Commissions Kunta Kinteh Ferry
President Adama Barrow yesterday commissioned the new vessel Kunta Kinteh, which is to strengthen the ferry service between Banjul and Barra.
The addition of the new ferry to The Gambia Ports Authority’s small and ageing fleet of vessels will improve marine transport service between the two points.
Travel between Banjul and Barra has long been a challenge. For years, passengers have crowded onto old ferries and spent as much as two hours making a slow crossing that should ordinarily take no more than 15 to 20 minutes. The crossing is important for The Gambia’s socioeconomic activities, as it links not only the northern part of the country to the Greater Banjul Area but is also a gateway to northern and southern Senegal and therefore the sub-region.
The Gambia Ports Authority purchased the Dutch built ferry at a cost of 9.3 million Euros.. Ports Authority Chairman Mustapha Colley, Managing Director Abdoulie Tambedou both stressed that while the new ferry would improve the service greatly, more vessels would eventually be needed for optimal service, given the volume of traffic across the River Gambia.
President Barrow drew on personal experience, recalling the challenges of river crossings during his not so distant presidential election campaign. He said he had personally observed at close range the huge number of people making the difficult journey with great risk and discomfort. He said he had vowed that to change things if he was successfully elected President of The Gambia. The President pledged that his government would provide modern facilities and services to end the nightmare associated with the Banjul Barra crossing.
The takeaway message from the President was that his administration believed in free movement of goods and services, and therefore the expansion and transformation of the port would remain a high priority.
“As we pursue the development agenda, for the transformation of our “New Gambia” into a modern state, we will provide the adequate support required to upgrade and modernise the Banjul Shipyard, which is essential for the maintenance of the ferries and other crafts,” the President said.
The Head of State thanked the Minister of Transport, Works, and Infrastructure, the GPA Managing Director, and partners DAMEN Shipyards, whose technical and financial support made possible