The injury of 18 people Tuesday following a stampede at the Likoni channel has once again turned the spotlight on ferry services at the busy crossing.
The incident comes even as it emerged that the country’s newest vessel, which is among two that were recently bought at a cost of Sh2 billion, has been grounded.
The ferry which had been operational for barely three months has been withdrawn after it was hit on the side by another vessel, MV Kwale.
The accident left only three ferries operating on Tuesday evening, which led to a massive congestion at the channel.
The resulting stampede saw 18 people get injured as they rushed to get space in the available ferries.
They were rushed to the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital after being given First Aid by the Kenya Red Cross.
Wednesday, the Nation confirmed a number of those injured had been discharged from the hospital.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) said in a statement that MV Safari had a breach on its hull which caused water to flood the engine room.
Three ferries are serving you now. The fourth ferry is expected to join operation soon. Kindly follow the laid down safety, security and health instructions for a safe sail.#kilindinihabour #kenyaferry #PSSDTransport #Kenya_Ports #kmakenya #TransportKE #COVID-19 #staysafe pic.twitter.com/Cs2F6KadJ6— Kenya Ferry Services Limited. (@FerryKenya) July 20, 2020
“We are currently emptying out water from the engine room. The hole will be temporarily repaired once the water has been emptied,” KFS managing director Bakari Gowa said.
By Wednesday morning, Mv Safari was still docked as engineers worked on it. Operations were however smooth as four other ferries — MV Jambo, MV Kilindini, MV Likoni and MV Kwale — were ferrying people and vehicles.
Since its arrival in April, MV Safari has been critical to operations at the channel because of its huge capacity.
It can carry 1,500 passengers and 62 vehicles, according to Ozata Shipyard, the Turkish firm that built it.
The ferry can travel at a maximum speed of eight knots. MV Safari has comfortable seats and is fitted with nautical, surveillance and communication equipment.
Under the deck, there are accommodation facilities for the coxswain and crew. The first ferry, MV Jambo, has been operational for the last two years since it was officially commissioned.
The KFS owns seven ferries; MV Safari, MV Jambo, MV Kwale, MV Likoni, MV Kilindini, MV Harambee and MV Nyayo.
MV Nyayo was recently docked for routine maintenance and is yet to return to service, while MV Harambee is permanently grounded after it was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of a woman and her daughter last year.
The ferries are currently operating from early morning to 9pm due to the curfew.