Tuesday, May 28, 2024

GPA to spend D143M for ferry repairs, dredging amidst frequent breakdowns at sea

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By Hadram Hydara

The Gambia Ports Authority is set to spend D143 million for the Kanilai ferry’s repairs and dredging operations at the channel entrance to Banjul, as well as the Port areas and Banjul and Barra Ferry terminals.

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The Gambia Ports Authority states that the dredging operations at the channel entrance, estimated to cost €1.5 million (D109.5M), are intended to improve navigable depths and address the continuous siltation in the Banjul estuary.

Another $500,000 (D33.5M) is allocated for the repairs of the Kanilai ferry, culminating in a combined expenditure of D143 million.

“GPA has also signed a contract yesterday with Sino Majilac, a local company for dredging works at the channel entrance into Banjul, Port areas and Banjul and Barra Ferry terminals to increase the navigable depths due to perennial siltation in the Banjul estuary. The project cost is at Euros 1.5 million and works are expected to commence soon,” the agency said in a press release.

Gambia Ferry Services announced on Saturday that ferry operations across the Banjul-Barra routes are suspended until further notice. This follows the sidelining of the Kanilai ferry for maintenance after it was stranded at sea for several hours with passengers on board. The Kunta Kinteh ferry had previously been taken out of service for maintenance in March.

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GPA on Sunday said the reengineering of the project on the Kanilai ferry will cost about $500,000.

“Kanilai ferry is also withdrawn from service in order to bring her up at the dry dock for the same repairs as being done on Kunta Kinteh. New engines and propulsion systems will be procured and expected to be delivered in 12 weeks from date of order.

“The project is aimed at reengineering the ferry to ensure that the new systems are much easier to operate and maintain. The MAN engines on Kanilai ferry are out of production, thus the reengineering project at an estimated cost of USD 500,000,” GPA says.

Hundreds of passengers on Friday found themselves stranded aboard the Kanilai ferry in the middle of the sea due to a technical issue while en route to Barra. The situation left passengers in a state of fear and panic as the ferry drifted at the mercy of the turbulent waves.

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Rescue teams and first responders successfully evacuated all passengers to safety without any loss of life, and a private company’s tugboat later towed the ferry back to the terminal.

Ferries becoming stranded at sea has emerged as a recurring issue in The Gambia. Critics and experts agree that this is due to the deteriorating state of the ferries, warning that new vessels must be commissioned to avert an impending disaster.

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