Holidaymakers destined to the South Coast were on Saturday afternoon stranded for several hours after a ferry, MV Harambee stalled at the Likoni channel.
Another ferry, MV Nyayo, had to be brought in to tow it to the Kenya Ferry Services Limited jetty.
The mid-afternoon incident caused a massive congestion on both sides of the Likoni crossing channel as human and vehicular traffic piled to more than 600 metres from the island ramp to Star Primary School along Nyerere Avenue.
Sources told Nation.co.ke that the ferry was transporting tankers to the mainland ramp when one of the engines stopped causing it to stall midstream.
“This is when the MV Nyayo was dispatched to tug and tow its stalled sister to the mainland ramp with its human and vehicular cargo on board,” the sources said.
After both ferries offloaded, MV Nyayo laboured to tow the stalled Harambee to the KFS jetty where it (Nyayo) also developed technical problems leaving only MV Likoni in operation.
It was at this juncture that the chief operational officer Hafidh Kombo dispatched the standby MV Kilindini to boost operations at the busy crossing channel.
With the snarl-up continuing to grow, frantic efforts were made to contain impatient motorists and commuters who did not know what was causing the delays.
“Don’t they have an address system to explain to ferry users what is going on or causing the delays here?” asked Daniel Nyasi, a commuter from the mainland.
From 3.58pm MV Kilindini joined the only operating MV Likoni to ease the pressure from some desperate Easter holidaymakers trying to get to Ukunda for the festivities as traffic police stopped motorists jumping the long queue.
Contacted on phone, the KFS corporate affairs head Elizabeth Wachira said the temporary hitch had been resolved by bringing in MV Nyayo that had also developed some mechanical problems.
“Right now (5.15pm) as we are talking MV Nyayo is back at the channel and we hope this will normalise our operations,” she told Nation.co.ke.
Sources privy to the KFS operations said most weekends are used to service the ferries that transport more than 250,000 people and over 5,000 vehicles daily.