A new ferry has been acquired by the Gambia Ports Authority as the nation’s gateway seeks to reverse its degraded customer experience review.
The new ferry is twice bigger than any of the current fleet the port authority has and it is expected to ease river transport in the country.
Many people complain of poor services and delays when crossing between Banjul and Barra in northern Gambia.
Many resorts to taking unsafe measures to cross the estuary of the River Gambia. Tens of people join small canoes to cross from the capital, Banjul to Niumi city of Barra, often without life jackets.
The UK’s Foreign Office warned against using wooden dug-out boats, or pirogues, to cross the river.
“Local boatmen operate pirogues as an alternative to the ferry and to attract tourist traffic,” it says. “They are often overloaded and sometimes sink during the crossing. It’s unlikely they will have life jackets.”
A ferry incident in 2014 resulted in the deaths of five of those on board, including a Belgian tourist, while many more were injured, some seriously.
Gambia’s ferries are old, usually overcrowded, and sometimes break down mid-crossing. There had been several warnings about safety standards on board the service.
River transport is a major source of revenue for the ports authority, which brings in the largest share of the government’s revenue by an agency.