President Uhuru Kenyatta made a surprise visit to the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) offices in Likoni on Monday, took a ride in one of the vessels and expressed disappointment at the poor services offered to wananchi crossing the channel.
The President held a brief closed-door meeting with top managers at the parastatal, including Managing Director Hassan Musa.
Mr Mwahima told the Nation that the President was disappointed by the poor management at KFS, which have led to persistent vehicular and human traffic congestion, sometimes leading to stampedes.
The channel is used by more than 300, 000 people and 5, 000 vehicles daily. The channel has four ferries.
“The President told the MD that he had come to the ferry as a citizen, not as President, so that he could witness first-hand the suffering of the people,” Mr Mwahima said.
According to him, the President expressed surprise at how small the KFS workshop was, saying it was only fit for “a tuk tuk garage”.
Said Mr Mwahima: “The President gave the MD an opportunity to explain what the problem is at the channel. Mr Musa said old vessels, which often broke down and have to be maintained at high cost were the main problem. President Kenyatta agreed with the MD but also noted that there was general poor management that also contributed to the problem of frequent traffic jams.”
The President also discussed the problem of Mtongwe Ferry Services that stopped on April 29, 1994, when MV Mtongwe capsized, killing 272 of the 400 people on board.
“We told the President that the national government should buy the Mtongwe vessel. Waiting for the county government will take a long time when people are suffering,” he said.
Members of the County Assembly said last week that the county would set aside 100 million for the purchase of a ferry for Mtongwe.
Mr Kenyatta also discussed the issue of construction of a bridge across the Likoni channel, which he said his government would consider as a future alternative.
He also promised to look into the Mtongwe ferry issue but told the leaders he would call for a meeting with all KFS managers and stakeholders soon to discuss in detail the issues over the channel.
Among those who attended the meeting were Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Likoni MP Masoud Mwahima.
Additional reporting by Ahmed Mohamed