By Awa B. Bah
Commuters using the Banjul- Barra crossing point have expressed their satisfaction and comfort with the arrival and commencement of operation of the newly inaugurated ferry, Kunta Kinteh.
All the people interviewed by this reporter agreed on one thing: Comfort and Excitement. Bouba colley a commuter said the new ferry is more spacious than all the previous ones and surely will help ease the delay and congestion that is synonymous of the crossing point, particularly during rush hours and days like ‘tobaski’, ‘gamo’ and ‘magals’. He called for the purchase of more similar ferries to be plying the crossing point to further ease the burden encountered by commuters.
Bakary Sonko also said the ferry is a modernized one with lot of space to ease movement. He said he has been plying from Banjul to Barry using the old ferries which he said are very slow and the facilities they have needs much to be desired. The new Kunta Kinteh ferry, he said, is not only comfortable but very fast.
One Amie Ceesay, a businesswoman, said travel between Banjul and Barra, has long been a challenge for her daily business for years, as passengers have to get crowded onto the old ferries and spend hours crossing to reach the other end of the river, which should take less than thirty minutes, adding with a good ferry like the newly inaugurated Kunta Kinteh, it would take less time.
Amadou Ndong a manifest clerk with the Gambia Ports Authority, said this the first time he is crossing with the new ferry. River crossing, he said, is urgent business for the Gambia’s socio economic development. The ferries plying from Banjul to Barra, he said, play key roles in the economy as it links the northern part of the country to the Greater Banjul Area, adding that the ferry serves as a gateway that connects the Gambia, Senegal and the sub-region.
Lamarana Jallow is the Captain of the new Kunta Kinteh ferry. He said the ferry is a standard and modern one, and it is the first of its kind in the history of the Gambia. The ferry, he said, is highly equipped with all the necessary facilities including an Eco Sounder, CCTV, and a VIP room. Mr. Jallow said every gadget used for the navigation of the ferry is digitalised. He called for the passengers to see the ferry as theirs and take the responsibility of keeping it clean at all times. The ferry, he said, takes eighteen minutes to cover the distance between Banjul and Barra. The main lower deck of the new ferry, he said, is for only vehicles and the drivers, adding that motor bikes owners have to park their motorbikes on the main lower deck and sit in the cabins. This, he said, is for the safety of the passengers and for the proper use of the ferry. The passengers of the new ferry, he said, are coping with the instructions and there is an intercom for communication between the authorities operating the ferry and the entire passengers on board.
The ferry he revealed can load two thousand passengers without trucks and vehicles and can load twenty seven small cars with one thousand five hundred passengers, adding that the capacity of the ferry is two hundred and eighty tons. The ferry he said can flow when the tides are high and can cover five trips daily during this period.