Shipping & Logistics

Mtongwe left without ferry services for three months after relaunch

Residents on Mtongwe channel after services relaunch. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Residents on Mtongwe channel after services relaunch. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) has failed to sustain services at the Mtongwe channel which President Uhuru Kenyatta re-launched.

For three months now, there have been no services because Mv Likoni, the ferry which was deployed to the channel, was withdrawn and taken to the busy Likoni channel.

The ferry services at Mtongwe were halted from October, breaking a smooth flow of six months started since relaunch.

Before the relaunch, the services had been withdrawn for more than five years when the government decommissioned two old ferries for being in bad shape while its infrastructure was also falling off.

In 1994, more than 270 people died in a ferry disaster at Mtongwe in one of Kenya’s worst maritime mishaps.

The withdrawal of the vessels put pressure on the Likoni Channel, leading to congestion while Mtongwe residents complained that lack of ferry services devalued their land and houses.

The KFS corperate services officer Elizabeth Wachira said the services were withdrawn following the breakdown of Mv Kwale.

“The plans were that when Mv Kwale is repaired it would be deployed to the Likoni channel so that the Mv Likoni can be taken back to the Mtongwe channel,” said Ms Wachira.

Five ferries, Mv Likoni, Mv Nyayo, Mv Harambee, Mv Kilindini and the new Mv Jambo have been operating at the Likoni channel.

Holidaymakers who had flocked the coastal city had an easy time to cross at the channel as services were well planned.

However, Mtongwe residents complained of being taken for granted. “They have five ferries, why don’t they deploy one to serve us. This is not right. They are treating us like we are second class citizens. They have just proved that the move to revive services was for political mileage,” said Wycliffe Omondi, a Mtongwe resident.

A spot check established that the Mtongwe jet was fine for use.

Sources at KFS the management was reluctant to take one ferry from Likoni because some three ferries have been found to have faults.

The three dilapidated vessels which were bought in 1990 have been struggling to operate at the channel.

The ferries which have missing flaps on their prows have been been struggling to accommodate both vehicles and commuters at busy the busy channel.

More than 330, 000 people and 6, 000 vehicles pass through Likoni daily.