Operations of the ferries at the Likoni channel are yet to be stopped despite the government warning Kenyan to avoid crowded places. The state has however warned commuters to brace for more inconveniences as tougher measures are instituted in bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“Those areas (crowded areas) were suspended but it does not mean that we suspend the ferry services at Likoni. What that means is that we must be ready to accept some level of inconvenience and therefore the number must be reduced as people cross,” government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said.
Currently, four ferries MV Likoni, MV Kwale, MV Jambo and MV Kilindini are operating and carry at least 300,000 commuters and 6,000 vehicles daily.
One vessel carries between 1,400 and1,600 people and more than 50 vehicles at a go. This means travellers are unable to maintain social distancing as part of precautions against coronavirus.
On Saturday, Mombasa county security committee led by Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo and Governor Hassan Joho announced that the government will provide hand washing detergents and running water.
By yesterday morning, however water and washing detergents had not been provided by the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) management as planned.
Instead, the management fumigated the four vessels which it said was one of the measures to deal with the spread of the virus.
Inside the ferries, following fears of the spread of the disease, commuters could be seen covering their faces with handkerchiefs and scarfs.
As measures continue to be put in place, Mr Oguna said delays should now be expected at the crossing. He urged the thousands of ferry users to makes sacrifices adding, “we must do that in order for us to stay safe as a country, because there isn’t a country without people”.
Already, the number of people crossing at the channel has started to reduce, a spot check revealed.
Ferry users’ association chairman Michael Ogwambo called on the government to put thermal scanners at both sides of the channel and screen people who board the vessels.
“Commuters are so much exposed in those ferries yet nothing has been done so far. KFS should take the matter seriously and implement the preventive measures needed,” said Mr Ogwambo.
On Tuesday, Shipping &Logistics learnt that KFS officials were in communication with Mombasa County’s public health officials to put at least 100 taps at both sides of the channel to allow commuters wash their hands before getting in the ferries.