By: Hadram Hydara
In the wake of the Kunta Kinteh Ferry fiasco over the weekend, which had left the vessel stranded in the middle of the sea with passengers and vehicles aboard for twelve hours and proved fatal for one passenger who was in an ambulance bound for the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, The Fatu Network has been informed by a source close to the Gambia Ferry Services that General Manager, Lamin Jawara’s claim that the ferry got stranded at sea due to its rudder propeller getting entangled in a fishing net, was a lie peddled to cover up the cranky conditions of the ferries.
On Sunday, March 19, the Kunta Kinteh ferry got stuck at the Barra landing site, spending the night in the middle of the sea which led to the death of Alagie Sarr, a native of Medina Serign Mass. On Monday, March 20, the General Manager of the Gambia Ferry Services Lamin Jawara told the press the incident was a result of the ferry’s propeller getting stuck in a fishing net.
“As a result of this, the ferry was not able to move and spent the night at the Barra landing site. When it happened, the captain rushed to remove the net and attempted to ply back to Banjul, but it was hindered by low tide.”
However, according to our source, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, this was an attempt to cover up the dire conditions of the engines of the ferries, adding that the same thing happened two days before the incident [Kunta Kinteh ferry getting stuck in the sea].
“That is not true,” he said, adding that “he was given 206 million dalasis by GPA (Gambia Ports Authority) board to improve the ferries as well as wean off ferries of GPA.
“Guess what he did, he went and buy cheap engines from an agent in Senegal instead of our regular supplier in Holland. After about a year, one of the engines got broken while the other two are not registering the required power,” the source continued.
The ferry is a disaster waiting to happen, as per the source, noting that the engines have been registering way below the recommended Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).
“The ferry is a disaster waiting to happen. At best, the engines register 1300 RMP instead of the recommended 1800 RMP. Corruption is killing us, if [the] situation is not fixed with utmost urgency, it would take a disaster to fix it.”
Efforts from TFN to get the comments of the General Manager of the Gambia Ferry Services Lamin Jawara have proved futile.