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Crisis at Likoni channel as KFS withdraws two ferries

Wednesday February 12 2020

The 'MV Nyayo' ferry at the Likoni crossing channel

The 'MV Nyayo' ferry at the Likoni crossing channel in Mombasa on February 16, 2017. The vessel has been withdrawn. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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Thousands of ferry users are staring at a crisis at the Likoni channel crossing following the grounding of two ferries.

Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) has withdrawn mv Nyayo and mv Likoni.

KFS officials told the Nation that the two vessels were taken out of service after developing mechanical problems.

DAMAGED PROPELLER

Sources revealed that mv Likoni’s propeller was damaged, forcing its withdrawal.

“Workers tried to fix it [propeller] but they did not succeed. The management is now contemplating sending the vessel to African Marine and General Engineering Company (Amgeco) for the repairs,” a senior KFS official said on condition of anonymity.

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The vessel has been out of service since Monday, the Nation learnt. KFS Communications Officer Aaron Mutiso confirmed that the mv Likoni was undergoing repairs and it would be back “soon”.

Meanwhile, the second ferry, mv Nyayo, was withdrawn on Tuesday evening despite KFS announcing last week that it would be taken for repairs.

MAINTENANCE

The vessel had been operating despite an earlier announcement that it would be withdrawn for maintenance at the Amgeco.

The agency had said in a statement that the 30-year-old vessel would undergo a mandatory maintenance programme that would take two weeks.

“This is, therefore, to advise you to avoid, where necessary, rush hours. The company subsequently appeals for patience and understanding during this period,” reads the KFS statement seen by the Nation.

OLD VESSELS

Mv Nyayo is among three old vessels that have been serving the more than 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles daily. On Wednesday, the busy Likoni crossing channel had only mv Jambo, mv Kwale and mv Kilindini operating.

Vessels plying the channel have been withdrawn on different occasions following mechanical problems.

With only three vessels operating, motorists from the mainland were forced to wait for hours before crossing to the island.

KFS officials manning the mainland side ramp had a hard time controlling motorists and commuters who were rushing to work early in the morning.

CHAOTIC

“It was chaotic in the morning. The situation is now a bit calm. Everyone was rushing to get on the ferry,” a police officer told the Nation.

The chaotic situation at the channel has been worsened by the grounding of the third ferry, mv Harambee.

Mv Harambee was permanently grounded following an incident that claimed the lives of a woman and her daughter in September last year.

Currently, KFS is largely depending on mv Jambo, the largest vessel in the country. KFS is, however, hoping to ease congestion and deal with traffic snarl-ups with the arrival of the second new ferry.  

Final touches on the vessel, mv Safari, are being carried out in Turkey before it is sent to Kenya. The vessel was set to be delivered last month, but KFS says there has been a delay.