As Senegal commemorates the 21st anniversary of the Joola tragedy on September 27th, a devastating shipwreck in 2002 that claimed nearly 2,000 lives, the maritime link between the capital and Ziguinchor in Casamance has remained suspended since early July 2023. Remarkably, this route has been serviced by a ferry since 2008.
The order to suspend the Dakar-Ziguinchor connection dates back to June, and since then, no new directives have been issued, according to the director of Cosama, the company responsible for the ferry service.
The suspension of maritime travel was primarily due to the riots in Dakar that erupted in early June, as confirmed by a source at the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs: “At the time, the boat was never as full as during the riots. So, the choice was made to suspend it to ensure safety.”
However, three months later, there is still no schedule for the resumption of voyages. For economic stakeholders in Casamance who use this route to sell fruits, palm oil, and fish in the capital, this represents a significant loss, as highlighted by François Joseph Cabral, a professor of economics at Cheikh Anta Diop University: “The effect is immediately felt because you no longer have sales to the rest of Senegal, or if you do, the volume is much smaller, and you lose money by using a more costly means of transportation, the road.”
Costs are nearly doubled when using the road, and there is no railway link to Casamance. For almost four months, approximately 1,500 people have been deprived of this direct and affordable mode of transport.
According to Professor François Joseph Cabral, “this ferry serves as the umbilical cord between the southern region, Casamance, and the rest of Senegal,” and the consequences of this suspension are primarily economic and “visible.”