Abdoulie G. Dibba
Following the closure of the Gambia –Senegal border at Kerr Ali/ Kerr Ayip for all categories of vehicle, several shops at both banks of the trans-Gambia river, called Bamba Tenda-Yeli Tenda, have closed down due to the lack of business activities.
Visiting the ferry crossing at Bamba Tenda-Yeli Tenda on Monday, 23 February 2016, this reporter did not only observe the closure of many shops but have also found the usual long queues of vehicles mostly from Senegal on both sides of the river banks absent.
The area used to be very busy teeming with travellers in transit, truckers carrying goods, traders, etc. This was when the three ferries were plying the two banks to carry all types of vehicles transporting passengers, goods, etc. mainly destined to the northern and southern parts of the neighbouring republic of Senegal.
Talking to Foroyaa, Momdou Wuri Bah, one of the few shopkeepers still staying to sell, said their sales are very low now because they do not have customers.
“The closing of the border has seriously affected all the businesses here as the Senegalese vehicles and passengers are not crossing now,” he revealed.
Mr. Bah said he is only coming now to try his luck with the few travellers because he has a bicycle and does not have pay transport fares, otherwise he would stay at home than coming without making any sales.
Kebba Jobe, a commuter, complained about the long delays at the ferry terminals waiting for passengers before the ferry departs to the other river bank.
“Because the vehicles and passengers are no longer coming from Senegal, we spend a lot of time waiting for more passengers in order to cross to the side,” said Mr. Jobe.
He said some of the passengers who are travelling within the Gambia but are in a hurry do resort to taking the canoes in order to cross in time.
A staff of the ferry service confirmed to this reporter that the border closure has negatively impacted on their operations with daily revenue dropping significantly. He said if this trend of low passengers persists it will affect the service as they cannot continue running the ferry at a loss. “This is unsustainable as it would mean less earnings and more spending on fuel, spare parts and overhead costs,” he added.
Foroyaa will approach the GPA Public Relation Officer to shed more light on this issue.