Likoni: Hundreds of ferry users thrown into panic, again

Monday, October 28th, 2019 13:46 | By

Hundreds of commuters at the Likoni crossing channel were thrown into panic after Mv Harambee hit docking ramp and got stuck for about 30 minutes on Monday morning.

Services at the busy crossing channel were disrupted as Kenya ferry Services (KFS) officials made frantic efforts to tow the vessel from the ramp. 

The incident comes barely a month after the death of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu who drowned after their vehicle slipped off the ferry and plunged into the sea. 

The ferry was crossing from the island to the mainland when it stalled disrupting services. Passengers onboard the vessels said the vessel had stalled midstream before drifting and later sailed to the Likoni ramps where it hit the ground. 

Stricken passengers hurriedly alighted from the ferry even as security officers urged them to remain calm.

"The ferry hit the ramp and the engine went off, every one went into panic and there was some sort of stampede as everyone was trying to get out of the vessel," said Ali Masoud, a ferry user.

It emerged that Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) spent close to Sh 500 million in the last three years on repair of three ferries that have been decommissioned. 

The three ferries; MV Nyayo, MV Harambee, and MV Kilindini were bought second hand in the 1990s and were decommissioned in 2016. They were to be replaced by MV Kwale, MV Likoni which were bought in 2010, but however they have never been withdrawn. 

A report tabled in Senate claimed that the three vessels were being used to siphon money from taxpayers under the guise of repairs. 

The three vessels are in a state of disrepair and having been carrying people across the channel with the ramps submerged in water and torn floor.

KFS does not have a single diver on its payroll to respond to any emergency, MV Harambee doing rounds on social media,

This means that only Mv Kwale and MV Likoni bought in 2010 and MV Jambo, which is the newest and the largest of all the ferries that are supposed to be in operational.

However, Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) said early this month that it had cancelled seaworthiness certificates for all the KFS ferries in the wake of the death of Kighenda and Mutheu. It took Kenya Navy and private divers 13 day to recover the bodies from deep sea.

The authority said that four of the vessels still in use at the channel have been declared unseaworthy and are just a disaster in waiting, while the others are being operated by unqualified coxswains. KMA said the ferries are just a disaster in waiting.

The vessels carry across over 300,000 commuters and 6,000 motorists on a daily basis.

Global safety standard code for ferries and ships, International Safety Management (ISM) recommendations require vessels to dry dock after 8,500 hours.

Auditor General report for the year ended 2017 had established that MV Harambee, Likoni and Kwale had operated for
more than 30,000 hours without the mandatory overhaul dry docking.

Kenya ferry Managing director Hamisi Gowa however denied that MV Harambee had stalled after hitting a ramp on Sunday.

He claimed the ferry had been docked at the ramp to undergo maintenance and repair works.

“The ferry had no one on board at the time it had been strategically placed there to enable it undergo some wielding on its ramps and today in the morning it has already resumed services,” he claimed.

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