The Mombasa High Court has ordered the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) to hire consultants to examine the safety of one of two Sh2 billion ferries before deploying it to operate along the busy Likoni channel.
Justice Erick Ogola on Tuesday ordered that KFS re-advertises the tender for supervision and inspection of MV Jambo, which was due to arrive at Mombasa port last week, to determine its seaworthiness and check for any default that may have occurred on its journey from Turkey.
He further ordered the State agency to ensure the new ferry meets local and international safety standards before deploying it along the busy Likoni channel to ferry commuters.
“I will allow MV Jambo to dock at the port of Mombasa. Upon its docking, the respondent shall conduct post voyage sea test. After that MV Jambo may be used for its intended purpose,” he ruled, adding that the court was satisfied that the first vessel was put to sea test in Turkey by a reputable international body.
The move is a reprieve for President Uhuru Kenyatta as he had planned to unveil at least one of the vessels before the election next week.
Stop building second ferry
The judge, however, has stopped KFS from continuing with construction of the second ferry in Turkey pending the hearing and determination of an application by a firm - Bonriz Insurance Marine Surveyors.
The court ruled that Bonriz had raised an arguable case against the second ferry and separated its matter from that of MV Jambo.
“This court shall remain vigilant to guard public safety of ferries operating at Likoni channel. I have every reason to agree with the petition that we cannot afford to have new ferries that are not seaworthy,” Justice Ogola said.
The judge noted that the petitioner had raised three key issues on public safety, transportation at the Likoni channel as well as private and commercial concerns between Bonriz and KFS that the court will critically examine.