Barges at a port in Mingkaman, Awerial County, Lakes State | Credit | Anyar Kuol/TRC
Some users of the Mingkaman-Bor commuter ferry say they are concerned about crossing the Nile River with humans and livestock on the same barges.
The Mingkaman-Bor route is the only crossing, connecting the Awerial and Bor counties.
The main means of crossing is water barge, with many using it every day to cross to either side for office work or business. Several animal dealers transport cattle and goats to either side.
A commuter pays SSP 3,000 cross. And the animal dealers pay SSP 7 ,000 and SSP 600 for cow and goat, respectively.
However, some of the commuters say sharing the barges with livestock poses disaster, especially when the vessels are overloaded.
They said they are seeing strong water waves these days within the River Nile as they travel and are afraid of the boat being heavily loaded with cattle and humans.
“I feel so afraid of traveling together with cattle, especially cows because they are big and heavy and can cause damage to the barge,” said Nyanwal Dhol. “In case a cow struggles to escape, this can sink a boat and we have people that cannot swim.”
Nyanwal, who resides at Site III in Mingkaman town, suggested that the port authorities should provide a separate barge for livestock.
For his part, Dut Kuol, animal deal, disagreed with Nyanwal, saying a separate transport of the animals costs lots of money.
“I have my five goats here but I cannot afford to pay SSP 70,000 for a full board of a barge. Besides, goats no harm traveling with humans,” argued Dut, resident of Roodit.
Another commuter, “Kur Deng, from Panhial area, registered his disappointment, saying sharing barges with cattle was unhygienic.
“They are still animals; they urinate and shit on people. By the time you arrive at the port, you smell dung and your attires dirty. I just don’t like it. They should give people separate barges,” Kur told Mingkaman FM.
In a response to the concerns, the Deputy Chairperson Boat Union Committee, John Achiek, said it was not possible to provide separate barges, for it would be so costly for both.
He adds the number of cows and goats that cross using the same boat with people is always very small, about 5 cows and five goats – a number they consider harmless to people.