“I’ve got 99 problems but the sea ain’t one” reads one of the stickers on the new boat. There was definitely an air of optimism from the Managing Director of the Sea Coach Express as he looked back at the past few months and ahead into the immediate future.
During the ebola outbreak the reduction in air trafffic directly impacted his business but he has been able to weather the storm. “Even though traffic was reduced, we were the only operators at the time. Going by the ferry meant you had to travel with a lot more people and the risk of bodily contact was increased. When international assistance started coming in, this also helped us to stay afloat”.
Of course, Ebola isn’t the only challenge to have faced Olusegun Jaji since he established his business in Sierra Leone but his relentless drive and optimism seems to demolish whatever barriers appear between him and his vision.
His company has a new, bigger boat that he says will give passengers an even more pleasurable ride across the river. He retraces Sea Coach’s development through the years. Initially, Sea Coach had much smaller boats but continously upgraded their fleet right through to their third generation gulf crafts. This boat is part of the latest generation, significantly bigger at 72 seats. He says “it’s a much better ride, air conditioned with Wifi and light refereshments on the boat.” We asked whether customer’s luggages will be on the same boat. “The boat is big enough to take the luggages, but this would mean we have to reduce the amount of passengers, and to maintain comfort we decided to have another boat bring the luggages. They will be on a smaller, faster boat which should mean that your luggages will be waiting for you.”
And the future? “It’s difficult to plan long term in Africa but in the medium term our plan is to continue bringing in these bigger boats. We also plan to diversify into more leisure activities like fishing or parties on the water. By the end of the year we hope to have three boats dedicated to these activities.”
When asked if there was any other message he wished to get across – “We at Sea Coach unlike other operators that may spring up and try to copy everything we do, are very concious of the service that we provide. The lives of our passengers are very dear to us and we don’t take any chances with safety. I want people to remember that. We have been operating for close to seven years now without any incident and this is because of our attention to safety. We will continue to improve by bring better boats and even better service to our customers.”
Sea Coach Express will launch their new boat service on Saturday 10th September. Tickets can be bought online here.