How is Border Closure impacting on Ferry Revenues, Tourism?

By Mustapha Jallow
As part of the updates on the ongoing closure of the official Gambia-Senegal borders, which is on its fifteenth day, this reporter Barra ferry terminal empty of trucksvisited Amdalai-Karang yesterday, Tuesday, 1 March, 2016 and observed that the impasse is still impacting negatively on the flow of traffic on both sides.

While at the border, few vehicles were seen discharging their passengers from the two sides, including one Gambian registered air conditioned coaster coming with tourists from the Gambia en route to Senegal who were transferred to one of this modified vans called ‘Gele Gele’.

As for the other passengers crossing into Senegal, they have to walk a short distance on foot before getting on to scooters (motor bicycles) or horse carts with their luggage to take them to the car park which is almost a kilometre away.

Fama Ly, a woman vendor who comes from Karang Town to sell fruits to travellers at the border, speaking to this reporter again, complained about low sales due to the closure.

“Look at some of my fruits, they are here with me for more than a week and are even drying up because no one is coming to buy them,” she said.

She appealed for a speedy resolution of the crisis so that her source of livelihood, which is selling fruits, would be restored.

On the two legs of my journey to the border, I have seen both the Banjul and Barra ferry terminals almost empty of vehicles which certainly impacts on the level of revenue being derived from the service. In fact, the passengers were compelled to wait for long hours, apparently in a bid to get more passengers and vehicles, before departure. The passengers were even complaining about this delay.

An official working with the ferry services told this reporter that there is no doubt that their revenue earnings this year will plunge as the flow of traffic at the two most important revenue earning crossings namely Banjul-Barra and Bamba Tenda-Yeli Tenda are being hard hit by this ongoing border closure.

“Unless the authorities in the two countries sit down and resolve this issue, the people whose livelihood depend on the free movement of goods and traffic between Gambia and Senegal such as the petit traders, drivers and workers at the ferry service are going to suffer,” said the GPA worker.

He appealed to the authorities to resolve the problem amicably for the sake of their populations.