As the Grand Bantaba of The Gambia and the only trusted institution where Gambians can confidently seek justice, I am humbly asking you to publish my experience crossing from Barra to Banjul using the so-called VIP service by the Gambia Ferry Services.
I arrived at the Barra Ferry terminal around 11:48am after waking up at 5am in Dakar to make sure I reached the terminal before noon. I made inquiries and was told one of the ferries had a problem. I approached the VIP booking guys, and the amount of hassle to get a VIP booking was more than the regular ticket.
After booking, I was told to go back and wait until the next ferry comes, I should come back to pay for it. To my surprise, people were getting front-loaded who were not on the VIP list initially. There was zero organization and no communication. As a Gambian to say I am embarrassed is an understatement. Barra ferry terminal is the gateway to Banjul our capital city but the amount of chaos there should scare any traveller.
I was finally able to get my so-called VIP ticket and boarded the ferry. When we arrived at the Banjul terminal after 5:00pm, my ordeal continued. A very rude staff approached our vehicle asking for tickets. I gave her my ticket, and she asked for the other passenger’s ticket. I told her we bought a VIP ticket on our way to Barra two days prior but never paid for a passenger. That was when she lost it. Why do people in positions of power feel offended when the people they are serving ask for simple clarification? She told the security and police officer to block my car.
I just wanted clarification, I was not running away with anything. Besides, I paid D1500. She was right the other passenger in my car should have paid D35, but why was that not communicated to us on Saturday when we bought a VIP ticket to Barra? Secondly, why not simply tell us that their own staff made a mistake and the passenger in the vehicle should purchase a ticket? But verbal abuse, asking security to block a VIP customer's car when he was just asking for clarification is totally wrong.
I am officially boycotting Gambia Ports Ferry services entirely; I rather use the D1500 for extra fuel than go through Farafenni to Kaolack. I encourage all Gambians to reject poor service delivery and mediocrity.
Another reason why I will not use this ferry service is safety. Imagine being on a ferry that struggles to dock for 20 minutes is terrifying.
Effective service delivery is important to the success of this country. If GPA cannot run the ferry services, Gambians should demand the government privatize the ferry services. I cannot imagine using this ferry to come to work in Banjul daily.