The Kenya Maritime Authority has incorporated the services of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor contractor’s tug boat, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), the Maritime Police, and Rural Border Patrol Unit in the search for a pontoon which detached from Mtangawanda Jetty in Lamu East five days ago.
A pontoon is a floatable heavy metal device connected to jetties and used as a bridge for boarding and alighting from boats and other sea vessels. In a statement seen by the Business Daily, KMA Director-General George Macgoye confirmed that the pontoon had not been found and that search efforts were still in progress. Mr Macgoye however warned water transport service providers and users to avoid possible collision with the pontoon.
Since Friday, the pontoon has been floating in the ocean with its location remaining unknown, a move which poses danger to navigation.
“The KMA wishes to bring to the attention of Lamu archipelago water transport service providers and users, the fishing community and the public that the Mtangawanda Jetty pontoon which detached from its piles in the evening of August 10 has not yet been located. The search is still on. We therefore request all to notify our offices of its location when it is sighted. We further continue to urge all vessels operating in the area and along the coastal waters to be wary of the danger to safe navigation posed by the pontoon. We look forward to your continued cooperation,” said Mr Macgoye.
“With assistance from the Lamu port contractor's tug boat, KPA, the Maritime Police and Rural Border Patrol Unit the search for the pontoon is in progress. We shall advise further on the success of the search efforts and subsequent retrieval of the pontoon.”
Meanwhile, Lamu sailors, fishermen and the public have accuses the government of laxity in renovating the Mtangawanda Jetty which has been dilapidated for years. It was the first time a pontoon detached itself from a jetty in Lamu.
The locals said the situation is proof that the government continues to marginalise the region in terms of infrastructural development.
Boat operators and travellers in Mtangawanda have been forced to shut down a section of the jetty after the incident. “I don’t think its right for the government to leave our jetty in such a condition. It is posing danger to users.
“We are sad that a pontoon is left until it detaches from a jetty that serves hundreds of locals daily. We need urgent intervention on this,” said Khaldun Vae, an elder in Lamu East.
Jetties are a crucial infrastructure in Lamu since they help transfer passengers and cargo to and from marine vehicles.
It should be noted that 99 per cent of movement and transport by Lamu residents is done at sea, which depends on pontoons fixed on jetties in the county.
Unfortunately, many of the jetties in Lamu are in a bad state and need renovation.