A firm is demanding an extra Sh300 million before delivering its second ferry to operate in the Likoni channel in Mombasa.
Ozata Shipyard was contracted to build the MV Jambo and the MV Safari at a cost of Sh2 billion.
The Jambo was delivered in August 2017.
The Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), which oversees the operations of the ferries, was awaiting the MV Safari.
KFS had earlier said that the vessel would be delivered by December last year.
In 2017, High Court Judge Eric Ogola had stopped KFS from continuing with construction of the Safari pending the hearing and determination of a petition by Bonriz Insurance Marine Surveyors Ltd.
Bonriz Insurance, which had been contracted by KFS as a consultant and later had its contract cancelled, sued to oppose the construction of the ferry on the grounds that some materials that were being used were substandard, and therefore the vessel would endanger the lives of users.
However, in April last year appellate judges Alnashir Visram, Wanjiru Karanja and Martha Koome allowed an appeal by the KFS challenging an injunction on the construction of the Safari in Turkey.
The judges ruled that it was illogical to stop building the ferry because, on completion, it must be tested to ascertain its suitability.
After the case, the Turkish company said it needed the extra money for the delay and for storage of the vessel.
“It now wants an extra Sh300 million for the delay by the government to have the vessel delivered,” KFS Managing Director Bakari Gowa said.
Sources at the Ministry of Transport say the government has refused to pay the extra charges.
“We opted for diplomatic channel to have the ferry released but that did not work as the Turkish company insisted on being paid the extra money,” our source said.
This forced the officials back to the drawing board. A committee to spearhead plans to have the ferry delivered was formed. Attorney-General Paul Kihara is part of the team.
“We are currently in talks, and before the end of this month we will have agreed and have the ferry delivered by latest June,” Mr Gowa said.
This means that thousands of ferry users will have to wait longer to have the vessel in the country. The ferry design is just like that of the Jambo and will have washrooms for passengers.
The ferry will have a capacity of more than 1,600 people and 64 vehicles. It will also have two rescue and emergency boats on board.
The vessel will also be fixed with CCTV cameras and will have a spacious sitting space on the upper deck with a shade.
More than 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles use the Likoni channel daily.