…calls for private sector support
May 20, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi
The Minister of Transport and Aviation has said that the appalling ferry service between Freetown and Lungi is one of the greatest challenges facing his ministry, adding that government would encourage private sector intervention to alleviate the age old problem.
Leonard Balogun Koroma said in an exclusive interview that it is the responsibility of government to provide reliable and affordable transportation for the people, but it is unfortunate that most of the ferries plying that route have been grounded, thus creating inconveniences to those traveling out of the country and traders from various communities outside Freetown. He said government is putting lots of efforts to address the situation.
Passengers to Lungi, especially those intending to catch flights flying abroad, or others who arrive at the Freetown International Airport, have been expressing grave concern over the quality of service provided by ferry operators.
Poor ferry services became acute when government deemed it necessary to privatise ferry services in October, 2007.
At the time of privatisation, most of the ferries had one engine instead of two and a sole generator rather than two, which may be responsible for incessant breakdowns.
Visitors and returnees are usually embarrassed by the poor transportation facility from Lungi to the capital, Freetown, they take hours to reach their destinations.
“It is very serious especially when most to the airlines who suspended their operations during the Ebola crisis have resumed operations. At the moment the financial situation of the country cannot allow us to buy new ferries. We have been promised by the World Bank of purchasing new ferry boats, but this will take some time,” minister Koroma said and added that government has engaged the private sector to intervene, although the latter have expressed concern about risks.
“We are thinking about so many options to address this situation, we want to repair the NASSIT ferry and bring in more ferries so that people can go about their normal activities,” he concluded.