Court stops fresh Sh2bn KFS tender in ferries row

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 

A Mombasa court has stopped the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) from re-advertising supervision and inspection services for two new vessels that were set to operate at the Likoni channel over safety issues raised.

High Court judge Eric Ogola's orders, issued on Wednesday, effectively stop the government body from carrying out any further evaluation of the new ferries until the matter is heard and determined.

This is after Bonriz Insurance Marine Surveyors, a company contracted by KFS to carry out assessment of the vessels made in Turkey, filed a case under a certificate of urgency raising serious allegations regarding quality and safety of the ferries.

In its filing, the company is alleging that Kenya will end up procuring new ferries “that are in real sense vessels of mass deaths”.

“The respondent is restrained by an order of temporary injunction from re-advertising or re-tendering for the supply project supervision and ferries inspection consultancy services (inspection, supervision and marine survey) for the two passenger/vehicle ferries currently being constructed...pending the hearing and determination of the present application,” said Justice Ogola.

'Low quality materials'

Bonriz claims in court papers that due to its persistent inquiries over the quality of the vessels, the Kenya Ferry Services has moved to void its contract and effectively lock the company out of the construction site to carry out further tests.

“The petitioner has persistently pushed the respondent to provide answers for why it is permitting the use of low quality materials in construction of the ferries against the express quality standards agreed in the contract with the ship builder,” it says in its claim.

The firm says it is apprehensive that KFS will instruct the Turkish firm, OzataTersanecilik San Ve Tic Ltd STI, to continue with construction and sea testing of new ferries without care for quality and safety concerns it has raised.

“In any event, the respondent will have succeeded in protecting their unlawful vested interests...since a new consultant may be warned in advance not to ask the same questions the petitioner asked or else risk ending up the same way the petitioner did,” Bonriz claims.

The firm is also questioning a change in the cost of assembling the vessels, which it says has been adjusted by $3.134 million (about Sh326 million) without any justification.

Planned unveiling

The move may slow down President Uhuru Kenyatta's current launching spree, as he had planned to unveil at least one of the Sh2 billion vessels before the August election.

KFS had earlier indicated that the first of the two ferries - MV Jambo - had already began its journey from the Ozata shipyard in Turkey last month.

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

Key CBK Indicative Exchange Rate used: $1=Sh104.0167