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Shipping & Logistics

Mtongwe channel services to resume after one year

MV Kwale on Mtongwe ferry channel
MV Kwale on Mtongwe ferry channel in this picture taken on 20 May 2019. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Ferry services at the Mtongwe channel are set to begin next week after a one-year suspension.

The operations at the channel were suspended in September last year for repairs that cost taxpayers Sh28 million.

Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) managing director Bakari Gowa said the services will now resume on September 1.

“Plans are going on well and next week we will start serving the residents of Mtongwe,” said Mr Gowa.

The resumption of the ferry services has, however, been delayed as the major repairs took a year to be completed.

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According to earlier plans the operation was to be back by March this year, but was pushed to August.

The works at the channel involved repairs of ferry landing platforms, pillars and the gangways on both sides of the channel.

The temporary repairs were undertaken to mainly ensure the safety of users of the channel.

The management had said that the pontoons (landing platforms) were last repaired in 2013.

The Island side pontoon was washed away by the Indian Ocean waves in an incident that sparked safety concerns among users.

The pillars holding the pontoon were overwhelmed by the waves after heavy rains.

Mr Gowa told Shipping &Logistics that one of the vessels Mv Likoni that will serve at the channel was undergoing routine maintenance.

Mr Gowa said the second vessel, Mv Kwale will also be serving at the channel which is used by almost 10,000 people daily.

“The Mv Kwale and Mv Likoni are the ones which will be used at the channel as the services resume. The two ferries will be alternating,” he added.

Mtongwe ferry users’ association chairman Michael Ogwambo said they are hopeful the return of the operation will end woes that the residents have been forced to go through following the suspension of the services.

He said, according to plans by the management, all seems to go on well and were hopeful that plans will go on.

“This time we have hopes that everything will go on as planned, unlike before when promises were made, but nothing was being actualized,” he said.

The back and forth on the reopening of the channel had resulted to underground protest by the ferry users who have since the suspension of the services forced to use the Likoni channel.

The channel has been faced with congestion partly because of the Mtongwe residents using the Likoni channel.

Four ferries including Mv Jambo, Mv Safari, Mv Kilindini, Mv Kwale and Mv Nyayo are now serving the channel.

In future, KFS plans to put up ramps at a cost of Sh600 million at the Mtongwe channel which would allow vehicles to cross.

The channel is now strictly used by pedestrians. Another channel, Likoni Floating bridge is also expected to serve as an alternative for pedestrians.

The bridge which is being done at a cost of Sh1.5 billion is expected to be completed by end of this year.

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