The deputy managing director of the Gambia Ferry Services, Hali Abdoulie Gai, has said that the commissioning of the new Senegambia Bridge at Bamba-Yelli Tenda has posed a significant challenge to the ferry services.

Mr. Gai told Foroyaa on Thursday that since the commissioning of the Senegambia bridge the revenue of the ferry services has taken a hit.

Hali Abdoulie Gai, deputy director of The Gambia Ferry Services

He said in 2018 the ferry services made significant achievements in their revenue targets, adding that they recorded huge revenue gains of over 50 million dalasi.

He disclosed that in 2018 the ferry services were able to shoulder all its bills and they now operate without any foreign expertise.

However Mr Gai pointed out that 2019 had been challenging for the ferry services due to the Senegambia bridge at Bamba-Yelli Tenda.

‘‘2019 poses challenges for the ferry services and the main cause of these challenges is the commissioning of the Senegambia Bridge,’’ he said.

‘‘When the new bridge commenced operations, the ferries at this crossing point started to lose revenue up to now.’’

Mr. Gai said the Bamba-Tenda/Yelli-Tenda Ferry crossing point has been in operation for over 80 years, adding that they have invested heavily in terms of building the landing bridge, passengers halls, offices and many infrastructure on both sides of the banks for the ferries.

He said despite all that investments they are struggling to attract more passengers to use the ferries.

The newly commissioned Senegambia bridge at Bamba Tenda-Yelli Tanda

The deputy director of the Ferry Services said other challenges at the Bamba Tenda crossing includes the landing bridges for the ferries.

Mr. Gai pointed out that these bridges were rehabilitated in 2010 by the previous regime.

“These structures were improved but notwithstanding, they still need to be rehabilitated,” he said.

On the Banjul/Barra ferry crossing point, Mr. Gai said the ferries used to operate from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm.

‘‘When I came back to office in 2017, management decided to improve the operating times of the ferries from 5:00 am in the morning to 11:00 pm in the evening, to make sure that the demand tallies with the supply.

“During feasts and when the demand is very high, we make sure that the ferries operate 24 hours. Services at the ferries, is just like at the International Airport. The first impression matters and that is why we made sure that our landing points are well organized,’’ Mr Gai told Foroyaa.

He said the ferry management had put in place a system whereby all revenues generated from the ferries, are deposited at the bank daily, to prevent mismanagement of funds.

He said at the end of the financial year in 2017, the ferry services realised a loss of about 10 million dalasi.

“After realising this huge amount of losses, we embarked on various activities in terms of staff training and redeployment and revisited our tariff. This led to a significant gain in 2018,’’ he said.

Mr. Gai said that the sanitation systems in all the landing sites of the crossing points have improved because health is a priority for the ferry services.

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