Officials of the Ministry of Works, Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRA), Road Safety Authority (RSA), who visited Mabang – a boundary between Koya in the North and Ribbi Chiefdom in Moyamba District, south of the country have attributed the capsized of the ferry to overloading.
While explaining the purpose of their visit at the scene of the capsized ferry, the Deputy Minister of Works, Melrose Kargbo, said from what they have gathered, the ferry overturned as a result of additional capacity onboard.
She disclosed that the required capacity of the ferry is 8 tons but that the ferry operators, for their own selfish interest added an additional 13 tons far exceeding the normal capacity.
The Deputy Minister stated that they also discovered that the ferry carried 160 bags of cements, five motor cycles, 20 passengers and a mini truck adding to a load of 13 tons instead of 8 tons.
She maintained that as a ministry there is no room for blame game and urged all stakeholders to try to put measures in place to see that the suffering of people in this part of the country is alleviated through concrete actions and coordination.
She stated that this is an emergency situation and sectoral institutions must act now. She advised the community people to start using passengers manifest because only 3 people were found dead – one boy and two female with no record of the total number of people onboard the ferry.
Chairman, Board of Directors Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), J .S Kaifala, said that the issue of the sunken ferry is not due to the negligence of SLRA but as a result of the additional capacity on the ferry that was done by the operator.
He said SLRA has been doing thorough monitoring of the Mabang ferry and that the selfish tendency of some Sierra Leoneans has resulted to the loss of 3 lives and properties.
Mr. Kaifala disclosed that the EU has given a grant for the construction a modern bridge and that the project contract has been won by CSE and the construction of the bridge will soon get underway.
Deputy Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA), Mr. Ibrahim Sannoh, said immediate collaboration is needed and therefore called on the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) to give life jackets to people living in river line communities, especially Mabang to prevent further loss of lives.
He stressed the need for proactive measures to be taken because the community people are still using canoes as the only means of transportation.
Deputy Assistant Project Engineer for the Moyamba Jetty and Bridges Project, James Faya, said that CSA has done a geological survey at the area where to construct the bridge and believes that the place is suitable for the bridge because it has a clay texture, which is good for such construction.
He also explained that the bridge will be constructed in two years and that it commenced in June 2018 but the reason why they stopped was due to the torrential rains.
He acknowledged that CSE has a ferry at Muala and the company will bring it to the region by March next year before they finish their work.
Headman of Ribbi Chiefdom confirmed that the community people tried to rescue 3 people, 5 motor circles, 60 Dangote cement and one mini truck.