This situation was confirmed by the Secil Marítima management committee, and the low demand for this way of traveling between Luanda and Cabinda is justified, despite the fact that there is no direct land alternative, due to the discomfort felt by passengers, the excessive duration and the scarce luggage that transport is allowed, in addition to the reduced difference for the air alternative, which is 27 thousand kz.
The company was considering increasing the frequencies of vessels from Luanda to Cabinda and back later this month, but, due to the low demand for the services, this proved to be unfeasible.
According to what was found in a conversation with some employees of the vessel and passengers, the poor adherence has to do with the fact that passengers are only entitled to eight kilos of hand luggage and 40 kilos in the hold, plus 20 kilos of excess cargo, which is considered scarce.
“There are days when we started the trip with less than 50 passengers to Cabinda. A very small number compared to the first days, when the ticket cost 30 thousand and more than 200 passengers were on board”, he told a catamaran employee who set sail for the “enclave” last Friday.
According to this official, who requested anonymity, there are problems with the vessels because they were subject to an adaptation for this journey of more than 10 hours when, initially, they were designed for short crossings between nearby shores or islands.
Another existing problem is the fact that the vessels are not equipped with their own transmission systems, depending on cell phones, despite the fact that the network, along the way, is weak and in some places non-existent.
Problems in the port of Cabinda
These catamarans also have many difficulties in docking at the Cabinda Maritime Terminal, due to the works that are taking place, and there are even records of situations in which the vessel runs aground before docking.
“Yes, that’s why passengers have been decreasing because it’s natural to think twice before choosing between the boat and the plane for the journey between Luanda and Cabinda”, he told a passenger who had already traveled this route a few times, claiming that it only continues to do so due to the load it can carry in the hold to compensate slightly in terms of values.
Another passenger, Adão Luciano, who last Friday went to Cabinda from Luanda, told him that taking 60 kilos of luggage, 40 plus 20 extra, is not enough for a person who intends to take goods or products to the family to Cabinda or from there to Luanda.
This is because, he recalls, the creation of a maritime route should have as its main advantage precisely the load allowed per passenger, because there are so many inconveniences and the difference in price of tickets compared to the plane, does not allow another competitive advantage for this means.
“Cabinda does not have a land connection with any other province in the country, if there was this maritime opportunity then there would also be the opportunity for passengers to travel with 200 or more kilos in the hold,” he said.
People, continues Adão Luciano, immediately realize that they do not have many advantages in traveling by catamaran because in terms of prices there is not much difference with the plane that takes 45 minutes and almost the same load.
Branca Azevedo, who lives in Cabinda and came to buy products in Luanda, regretted the fact that this route did not include a stop in Soyo. In other words, there is currently only a route from Luanda-Cabinda-Luanda and Soyo-Cabinda-Soyo, noting the lack of a Luanda-Soyo-Luanda route or one connecting Luanda to Cabinda, with a stop in Soyo.
From the conversations held with employees and passengers, it was also possible to perceive that, with the exception of the issue of communications, there are no other problems in terms of security.
Initially these vessels had a maximum capacity of 350 passengers but was, however, reduced to 276.
But on the last Fridays, the day of departure from Luanda, the catamaran rarely exceeds 50 passengers, which is, for officials, a warning sign about the economic viability of this maritime route.
the official explanation
To , the coordinator of the Management Committee of Secil Marítima recognizes the difficulties and mentioned that the number of passengers registered now does not satisfy the company.
João Martins adds that the “break-even point” is situated at 155 passengers per trip, because fuel costs are very high.
According to this official, the new catamarans only have the capacity to transport passengers and not cargo, since the vessels were adapted for this route.
“The vessels are for passengers and not for luggage, so we allow a limited number of kilos. We only authorize passengers to travel with up to 60 kilos due to the vessel’s tonnage capacity”, he explained.
“Unfortunately, the vessel we have for cargo still doesn’t work due to the conditions in the port terminals. But it’s ready! It’s the “Cabinda Ferry” that carries more than 100 tons of cargo”, he explained.
João Martins said that Secil Marítima received this cargo vessel two years ago, but it remains stopped due to the lack of conditions in the maritime terminals.
The coordinator of the Management Committee of Secil Marítima pointed out that the Cabinda Maritime Terminal, despite having already been inaugurated, is not yet fully ready, which makes it difficult for vessels to dock.
In view of the poor adhesion of passengers on the Luanda/Cabinda sea voyage, found out , Secil Marítima is now carrying out an assessment of operating costs together with the Ministry of Transport and a decision is expected soon.