Friday, October 5, 2012

Gridlock as tanker plunges into Likoni channel

A truck transporting cooking oil on the Likoni channel after the it developed a mechanical problem on the ramp. Photo / Laban Walloga.

A truck transporting cooking oil on the Likoni channel after the it developed a mechanical problem on the ramp. Photo / Laban Walloga. 

By PHILIP MUYANGA pmuyanga@ke.nationmedia.com

Operations at the Likoni Channel in Mombasa were partially grounded for hours Friday morning after an oil tanker got stuck at a ferry rump and plunged into the ocean.

It’s cargo – cooking oil destined for Tanzania – spilled into the sea as ferry technicians and a salvage crew embarked on hauling it from the sea where it lay half-submerged.

The development forced ferry operators to scale down operations for some time to allow for the tanker’s retrieval before fully resuming work.

The situation worsened after two ferries MV Kilindini and MV Nyayo developed mechanical problems forcing commuters to wait for several hours to cross the channel.

At the mainland side where there was massive human and vehicular traffic, ferries were using only one ramp as the oil tanker had taken half of the other ramp.

Kenya Ferry Services employees led by the managing director Hassan Musa were at the ferry controlling traffic to ensure normalcy.

Mr Musa confirmed that the tanker broke down on the ramp on Thursday but said it has not disrupted operations at the channel.

“The operations have not been affected by the breaking down of the lorry,” said Mr Musa who confirmed that two ferries had developed problems.

He added: “Things will be back to normal by 1pm”.

Some of the commuters who spoke to the Nation but requested anonymity said they had been at the Likoni channel for almost two hours.

“I have been here for the last two hours, it’s almost nine and am supposed to report to work at eight,” said a civil servant.

The early morning transport crisis at the Likoni channel comes at a time when KFS employees are staging go slow demanding increased salaries.

The vehicular traffic on both the mainland and Island of the channel had stretched to almost 1.5 kilometers.

The Likoni Channel, served by several ferries, is the key link between Mombasa Island and South Coast. It also serves traffic heading to neighbouring Tanzania through the Lunga Lunga border point

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