Leaders want improvement in ferry services

Hoteliers want a bridge connecting Mombasa Island and South Coast built to end transport crisis.

Thursday January 7 2016

Kenya Ferry Services Mv Kwale at the Mainland side in the Likoni Ferry crossing channel on November  11, 2015. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya Ferry Services Mv Kwale at the Mainland side in the Likoni Ferry crossing channel on November 11, 2015. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The sacking of three Kenya Ferry Services top officials on January 6, 2015 has generated mixed reactions from tourism players and the business community.

On Thursday, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast executive officer Mr Sam Ikwaye said the sacking of Mr Musa would not solve the transport crisis at the channel.

Instead, he called on the Government to build a bridge to connect Mombasa Island to the South Coast as a lasting solution to the crisis.

He argued that when tourism players held a meeting with the KFS boss last month, they learnt that the parastatal was being underfunded.

Mr Ikwaye explained that Mr Musa also informed them that five of the ferries’ lifespan expired more than 10 years ago, a fact he said, was to blame for the endless ferry breakdowns at the channel.

“Sacking Mr Musa is not a solution as the ferries operating at the channel have outlived their usefulness,” he said.

 UNDERFUNDING PARASTATAL

He added: “If the government is underfunding the parastatal, how does it expect good services when the number of passengers crossing the channel daily have soared to more than 300,000?”

The KAHC official appealed to the government to consider building a bridge as a permanent solution to the transport crisis.

Kenya Coast Tourism Association chairman Mr Mohamed Hersi, however said the change of management at the Kenya Ferry Services was long overdue.

(READ: Three senior ferry bosses dismissed)

Mr Hersi called on the government to reappoint former KFS managing director Alex Leteipan to streamline ferry operations.

“Mr Leteipan did a better job. The government should reappoint him to help improve services at the channel,” he said.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mombasa branch executive officer Mr James Kitavi supported the sacking of the KFS boss saying services had deteriorated due to poor management.

He however, called on the government to appoint experienced managers on ferry matters besides buying buy new ferries.

On January 6, 2016, the government fired KFS Managing Director Mr Musa Hassan Musa, Chief Engineer George Nyadero and Operations Manager Anthony Muzungu, 48 hours after President Uhuru Kenyatta made a surprise visit to the Likoni channel on January 4, 2016.

CRISIS MEETING

The KFS senior officials were sent home after a crisis meeting chaired by Transport Cabinet Secretary Mr James Macharia at the Kenya Ferry Services headquarters in Likoni.

Last year, tourism players at the Coast had demanded the sacking of Mr Musa due to frequent ferry breakdowns on the channel which delayed tourists heading to the South Coast for hours.

Hoteliers said the transport crisis at the channel had dealt a major blow to tourism in Diani Resort town.

The delays of between two and three hours made some tourists who were on holidays in Diani miss their return flights at the Moi International Airport, Mombasa.

Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa had also demanded the sacking of the KFS boss over poor management and corruption allegations.

Following the crippling transport crisis during the December 2015 festive season, hoteliers in Diani were forced to airlift tourists from Moi International Airport to Diani to spare them the hours-long delays at the channel.

In the arrangement, local and international tourists who were heading to Diani for the festive season took 20 minutes to reach the resort town.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Mr Najib Balala and Mombasa Governor Mr Ali Hassan Joho felt the transport crisis at the channel could end if a bridge is built to connect Mombasa Island and the South Coast.

Mr Balala said the government was fast tracking the building of two new ferries in Turkey at a cost of Sh1.9

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