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Hoteliers, tour firms demand sacking of Kenya Ferry Services MD over Likoni crisis

Wednesday December 2 2015

Police officers control passengers entering MV

Police officers control passengers entering MV Likoni Ferry after MV Harambee stalled on November 12, 2015. Now hoteliers and tour firms have demanded the sacking of Kenya Ferry Services managing director Musa Hassan Musa over the transport crisis at the Likoni channel. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MATHIAS RINGA
By MATHIAS RINGA
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Hoteliers and tour firms have demanded the sacking of Kenya Ferry Services managing director Musa Hassan Musa over the transport crisis at the Likoni channel.

The Kenya Association of Tour Operators (Kato) and the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers want President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.

The associations said the appalling ferry services have dealt a blow to tourism in Diani, Kwale County.

Kato Coast branch chairperson Monika Solanki Tuesday called for the sacking of Mr Musa for failing to address the persistent ferry breakdowns.

She wondered why MV Harambee, which has problematic engines is still in use. The official said this is putting ferry users at risk.

“Last month, Mr Musa blamed the National Treasury for failing to release Sh84 million for operational costs.

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“Despite the money being disbursed two weeks ago, ferry breakdowns are still occurring.

"We want a new managing director to tackle the problem,” said Ms Solanki.

DISASTER IN WAITING

Hotelkeepers chief executive Sam Ikwaye called for the resignation of Mr Musa. He said there is a “disaster in waiting” at the channel.

He said the continued use of a faulty ferry is endangering the lives of commuters.

“The deplorable ferry services at the Likoni channel are a time bomb. It is time the Head of State stepped in as the ferry crisis is hampering revival of tourism in the South Coast,” said Mr Ikwaye.

He supported Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho’s proposal that a bridge be constructed across the channel to connect Mombasa Island with the South Coast.

“Residents and visitors have had enough of the ferry problems. It would be a huge relief if a lasting solution is found,” said Mr Ikwaye.

Baobab Beach Resort General Manager Sylvester Mbandi backed Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa’s push for the removal of Mr Musa.

In November, the commissioner demanded the sacking of Mr Musa citing poor management and corruption.

“I do agree with the county commissioner that the ferry breakdowns are due to poor management and misuse of public funds.

“Transport at the channel has gone from bad to worse. A change of management would help address this thorny issue,” he said.

Mr Musa said the MV Harambee, which requires urgent engine replacement is still being used since another ferry MV Kilindini is still being tested.

Asked when the faulty ferry would be withdrawn for repair, Mr Musa said it would be done once MV Kilindini resumes service.

The ferry boss was unable to say the time when the repaired ferry will resume service on the channel.

Last month, Mr Musa blamed the transport crisis at the channel on the expiry of five ferries, whose lifespan lapsed more than 10 years ago.

15 YEAR LIFESPAN

He said usually, a ferry has a 15-year lifespan.

The official said MV Mvita is 46-years-old, MV Pwani is 40-years-old, while MV Harambee, MV Kilindini and MV Nyayo are 25-years-old.

Mr Musa said the lifespan of the remaining two ferries MV Kwale and MV Likoni would expire in 2020.

Despite operating unseaworthy ferries, he said, the number of passengers crossing the channel daily had soared from 60,000 in 1995 to 300,000 in 2014.

The official also said the number of vehicles ferried daily has increased from between 2,800 and 3,000 in 2010 to 5,000 in 2014.

Mr Musa also blamed the ferry crisis on the National Treasury’s delay in releasing Sh84 million for ferry operational costs this quarter.

In November, the chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Transport Maina Kamanda asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the ferry service accounts, procurement and the tendering of spare parts.