Friday, October 4, 2013

The floating coffin saga continues

We've been told by the Jammeh regime that Taiwan has bought four replacement engines for our decrepit ferries that pose the single most clear, and imminent, yet preventable, danger to the public.  These ferries are operated by the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), a quasi-government agency that is expected to operate like any private enterprise despite the fact that it is heavily subsidized already by the passengers who use the 'services' daily.

The solution to these dangerous vessels is not the replacement of existing engines with second-hand, reconditioned engines which amounts to a temporary solution to a problem begging for a permanent solution. The regime continues to ferry humans, livestock and heavy trucks daily on the treacherous seven nautical miles journey across the mouth of the River Gambia.  The once pleasurable and scenic 30-minute journey has turned into a nightmarish minimum 4 hours adventure.  The journey is so dangerous that all foreign governments have advised their nationals not to venture into them.  Senegal had to hire boats to rescue members of its sporting team stranded in one of these floating coffins. 

The problem with these ferries go beyond engine malfunction.  Therefore, this regime is still not getting it. They are missing the point entirely. The structural integrity of these ferries pose far more serious and life-threatening problems than the engines themselves.  There are holes in the hulls of these vessels rendering them unfit to navigate.  They are scrap and should be mothballed.  Fitting them with reconditioned engines is a temporary stop-gap measure, and therefore not the answer.  Permanent solutions must be found before it is too late.   

Gambians are among the highest taxed humans on earth.  They, therefore, deserve new ferries and better service from the GPA. They demand new ferries in certifiably mint condition, using their tax and fare proceeds respectively collected by government and the Gambia Ports Authority.  This regime must stop utilizing the client-state relations with countries like Taiwan, Venezuela and Cuba to fund the day-to-day running  of the government government.  The piecemeal approach to economic development is not the answer to our problems as a sovereign country.