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KFS to challenge court order on Sh2 bn ferries

Two ferries cross the Likoni Channel as MT Theresa Arctic, a Tuvalu-flagged oil tanker, enters the Port of Mombasa on July 12, 2017. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG
Two ferries cross the Likoni Channel as MT Theresa Arctic (in the background), an oil tanker, enters the Port of Mombasa on July 12, 2017. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG 

The Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) will challenge a court decision that could hinder the planned unveiling of two new ferries at the Likoni channel later this month.

KFS company secretary, Elijah Kitur, says the State firm has instructed its lawyers to move to court with a view to quash orders blocking the re-advertising or re-tendering of inspection consultancy services for the ferries worth Sh2 billion.

On Wednesday, Justice Eric Ogola stopped the KFS management from any inspection, supervision and marine survey activities on the new ferries pending hearing and determination of an application by a local company.

'Safety, quality issues'

Bonriz Insurance Marine Surveyors filed the case under a certificate of urgency while raising serious allegations regarding quality and safety of the new vessels.

The company, which was contracted by KFS to carry out assessment of the Turkey-made ferries, is also raising questions regarding price adjustments made on the vessels.

The order by the judge has dealt a blow to KFS and the Transport ministry's plans to ensure the two ferries are in the country from Turkey before elections to be launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Justice Ogola, who certified the matter as urgent, had directed the petitioner through lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini to serve the respondent with court orders and appear before him next week Thursday for inter-parties hearing.

Documents seen by the Business Daily show the contract has explicit clauses for dispute resolution such as arbitration.

Unveiling

One of the ferries, MV Jambo, is already complete and was to be transported to Kenya from Turkey for unveiling later this month.

The vessel is among Mr Kenyatta's key promises to Mombasa residents and was set to ease the congestion headache along the Likoni channel.

The second ferry, MV Safari, was expected to be delivered in November, according to KFS management.

The vessels were purchased from Turkey at a cost of Sh1.9 billion and will bring to seven the total number of ferries at the Likoni crossing.

According to designs seen by the Business Daily, each ferry will have a seating capacity of 1,391 passengers and a designated area for disabled people, the elderly and expectant women.

Currently, commuters – including the sick – must stand while travelling in some of the ferries including MV Nyayo, MV Harambee and MV Kilindini.

The new vessels, with a capacity to carry 64 vehicles, will also have two rescue and emergency boats on-board, the plans show.

Unlike the old ferries, the new ones will also have washrooms for passengers.

The sea channel transports an estimated 330,000 people and 5,000 vehicles every day.