May 30, 2016 By Victoria Saffa
Ferry Managers at the Freetown Kissy Terminal have blamed the Sierra Leone Port Authority (SLPA) for what they say is failure to provide better facility for the operation of the ferries.
Managers of Mahera, Great Scarcies and MV Freetown ferries alleged that the SLPA had failed to clean up the dredge and mud from the sea, which they say have caused their ferries to breakdown at sea.
In an exclusive interview with Concord Times, General Manager of MV Freetown, Said Abdulla stated that it was the responsibility of the SLPA to clean the dredge and mud from the sea.
“We have raised this issue with the SLPA, but they have never paid attention to us; any part of the ferry that has problem is expensive. We need collaboration with the SLPA. This breakdown has affected us seriously and I feel discouraged when I see people face difficulties to travel[to and from Freetown and Targrin,” he said.
General Manager of Mahera and Great Scarcies ferry, Alusine Daramy, also accused SLPA for the breakdown of their ferries, adding that they had a breakdown on the 18th of this month at Targrin and are at present undergoing maintenance.
He also alleged that the SLPA has not been providing electricity supply to the terminal and that as a result, they usually encounter difficulties when they berth their ferries.
He also bemoaned the fact that the country lacks maritime spare parts, thus they purchase spare parts abroad.
He said they have been practically struggling to keep the ferries up and running, but promised that they vessels would soon recommence operation. “The engine too has a problem and we have a technical team that are presently working on it and in one week time they will start operations; we have been losing millions a day and we have to pay over seventy workers,” he said.
Public Relation Officer of SLPA, Sarrah K. Sesay, told our reporter that they are not in charge of maintenance of the ferries, even though they own the terminal, adding that they stopped providing electricity to the terminal because ferry operators were not paying electricity bills and had reneged on paying their rent.
A press release from the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration said on Tuesday, 24 May that ferry operation between Kissy and Targrin terminals had been halted because of the grounding of the ferries. They said the decision was reach because of “heavy siltation” at both terminations and “mechanical problems experienced by the ferries.”
They added that the decision was in the best interest of the public as it was their duty to “protect life and property at sea, but failed to state when the ferries, which serve thousands of passengers that cross the estuary separating Freetown and the international airport at Lungi, would resume.
Meanwhile, the ferries have recommenced operation, although passengers complain that they are too slow as they now take two hours instead of one to cross from Kissy to Targrin and back.