NASSIT on Friday took journalists onboard M.V Bai Bureh and Masimera for an inaugural ride but the Acting Director General said certain things needed to be done to get them fully operational.
M.V Bai Bureh took off from Government Wharf and went up to Water Quay and back while M.V Masimera went up to Targrin and back.
The test, according to the Ag. Director General of NASSIT, Gibrill Saccoh was to dispel misconceptions that the ferries are unworkable.
Mr. Saccoh said the vessels were bought in order to address some social needs and the acute transportation from Freetown to Lungi and also for investment purposes.
He categorically stated that “we did not buy a new ferry. A new ferry costs about 10M Euros and if you take the returns of a new ferry it is almost impossible to get your money back. It means we might have to charge an amount that is not affordable”.
Explaining further how they got the second hand ferries, he said they went through a process where a broker (Damen) was identified “Damen is one of the international ship builders, we told them our objectives and budgets and they made a recommendation that there were several ferries that have been used but for the budget we bought (M.V Bai Bureh) which is in working condition but we just need to do a facelift on it”
Mr. Saccoh further explained that when the ferry was bought, they were given a scope of work to do in order to get it to standards.
He also said safety, comfort and reliability were taken into great consideration. “we went into an agreement to do the refurbishment of the ferry to put it to standard but we were also informed that after renovation of the ferry we as client have the right to call an independent person to come and verify if they have actually performed the scope of work that was agreed and if the ferry is at an international standard” he stated.
He thus disclosed that when the ferries were on their way from Greece to Sierra Leone, they deteriorated and on arrival, he said the broker was informed that it was not in the state they had expected.
Mr. Saccoh informed that before they took possession of the ferry, they brought in Lyod’s who examined the ferries and presented their report which stated that “The mechanical structure and everything is fine for Bai Bureh but to meet the safety and international standards, more work was needed to be done and Damen should put the ferry in the standard as we agreed”
And for the smaller passenger ferry which is M.V Masimera, he stated that it “some safety aspects are to be changed. The safety jackets are in another name which should be changed to M.V Masimera and the instructions on the boat is in Greek which needs to be translated into English. Also he stated that the pontoon (landing site) of the boat is not safe”
M.V Masimera took about 19mins to Targrin and 21mins back to Government wharf. The VIP, 1st Class and Economic seats of the two ferries are decent. CORD-SL Promotes Sanitation projects in Kenema By Ishmael Bayoh