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Government now apologises over Likoni drowning incident

By Hillary Mageka
Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

The Government through the Ministry of Transport has apologized to Kenyans over its late response to rescue a mother and daughter who drowned on Sunday at Likoni Ferry Channel.

 At the same time, the state has refused to apportion any blame to embattled Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) management over its failure to take its mandate seriously to ensure the safety and security of Kenyans while on the ferries.

Transport and Infrastructure Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Chris Obure said while the incident is unfortunate and regrettable “some safety and precautionary measures ought to have been observed”.

“I know the country is mourning out of the pain of losing two Kenyans, in what would be avoidable. To the family and Kenyans, we apologize and send our sincere condolences to the family,” Obure the National Assembly Transport Committee on Thursday.

 “All resources and equipment have been allocated to ensure the success of retrieving the bodies of the two victims,” he added.

For over 120 hours, the family of Mariam Kighenda, 35, and her four-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu has waited for the recovery of their two bodies.

While the accident would have been avoided, Obure said their preliminary investigations have disclosed that in some of the operation sites, officials’ responsible fail to enforce   the safety and security measures, the Likoni ferry incident was such as an example.

On Sunday, Ms. Kighenda  in the company of  her daughter Amanda Mutheu, 4, a student at MM Shah academy, drowned, when their vehicle a Toyota Isis, registration number KCB 289C, onboard MV Harambee ferry rolled off into the sea, midstream at the busy crossing in Mombasa Island.

“If the basic rules and regulations were strictly followed what happened on Sunday could have been avoided,” he told MPs.

The CAS promised that the ministry will take enough measures to enhance safety and security at the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS).

However, the committee Members Gideon Mulyungi (Mwingi Central), Shadrack Mose (Kitutu Masaba), Tom Odege (Nyatike) and David Kiaraho (Ol-Kalou) demanded the ministry to take responsibility and crack the whip.

“How can a vehicle reserve, float for 10 minutes and nothing happens?” Mulyungi asked.

He continued, “My position is that the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) managing director Bakari Gowa should go home so that we get a competent Kenyan to take care of us while on the waters,”

Ol-Kalou MP David Kiaraho: “We should have seen someone taking responsibility, they should have resigned by now,”

His sentiments were shared by Kitutu Masaba MP Shadrack Mose who noted the KFS managing director had let down Kenyans.

“This man responded so casually when I saw him on TV last night. Where is the safety and security of Kenyans while using this ferries,” asked Mose.

Meanwhile, Senators now want Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, his Principal Secretaries Esther Koimett (Transport) and Nancy Karigithu (Maritime and Shipping Affairs) to resign over incident.

The House adjourned on Thursday to discuss the incident as rescue efforts go underway in the deep seas of Indian Ocean.

Led by Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri and his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo, the legislators accused the government of being disaster unpreparedness hence risking thousands of lives using the Likoni Ferry Channel.

 “You can imagine more 120hours later, we have not had a statement from the CS on this incident, what we have only seen is him a pointing a person who is not even an expert to lead the rescue operations,” Senator Mutula shoot the first salvo.

“They should all take responsibility and resign from their positions,” he added.

The senator regretted saying that if it was a minister himself, his daughter or relative who drown in this Likoni incident, serious efforts could have put in place to retrieve their bodies but because it is an ordinary lady and her daughter , are they are not known its business as usual.

“It is a tragedy to loss a young family in across over that all of us pride in,” he lamented even as urged the government to improve the safety measures of the Likoni Channel.

On his part, Senator Ongeri fingered the Kenya Navy, the Coast Guard Service, Kenya Ports Authority, Maritime Authority and the Kenya Ferry Services of neglect and letting down Kenyans.

He accused the agencies of being “spectators and onlookers watching as somebody disappeared into the waters”.

Others were Godhana Hargura (Marsabit), and their nominated counterparts Agnes Zani, Naomi Shiyonga and Petronilla Were also accused the government of risking the lives of Kenyans using the ferry services.

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