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Mtongwe ferry services down again

Tuesday January 9 2018

The refurbished pontoon at the Mtongwe channel

The refurbished pontoon at the Mtongwe channel on Monday. The Kenya Ferry Services had suspended operations at the channel after the pontoon got damaged. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) has failed to sustain operations at the Mtongwe channel.

For three months now, there has been no services despite re-commissioning by President Uhuru Kenyatta last March.

MV Likoni, the ferry which was deployed to the channel, has been withdrawn and taken to the busy Likoni channel where it has been operating for the last three months. The ferry services at Mtongwe were halted in October last year.


President Kenyatta re-launched the services at the Mtongwe channel after residents missed them for five years; this was after the government de-commissioned two old ferries for being unseaworthy.

Dilapidated infrastructure also caused withdrawal of services. In 1994, more than 270 people died in a ferry disaster at Mtongwe in one of Kenya’s worst maritime mishaps.

The withdrawal of the vessels put pressure on the Likoni Channel, leading to congestion.

Mtongwe residents also complained that lack of ferry services devalued their land and houses. The government had them restored in 2017, a move that saw residents laud the State terming it a relief.


Speaking to the Daily Nation on the phone, KFS corporate services officer Elizabeth Wachira said the services were withdrawn following the breakdown of mv Kwale.

“The plans were that when mv Kwale is repaired, it will be deployed to the Likoni channel so that mv Likoni can be taken back to the Mtongwe channel,” said Ms Wachira. Five ferries – mv Likoni, mv Nyayo,  mv Harambee, mv Kilindini and the new mv Jambo – have been operating at the Likoni channel.

The deployment of the five ferries beat the congestion experienced during the holidays.

Sources at KFS disclosed that the management could not take away a ferry from the Likoni channel as it had no confidence in three other ferries.