Transport services at the busy Likoni channel are set for a boost with the delivery of two new ferries, the first of which arrives in about a month.
The two ferries, MV Safari and MV Jambo, are expected to help decongest the sea channel that transports an estimated 330,000 people and 5,000 vehicles every day.
The vessels were purchased from Turkey at a cost of Sh1.9 billion and will bring the total number of ferries at the Likoni crossing to seven.
They are currently undergoing machinery installation in the European country.
“Our team was in Turkey last week to inspect the progress and the construction...which is complete for the first ferry. The shipment of MV Safari will start early June and by July 27 we expect it to be at our premises. MV Jambo will be delivered November 3,” said Kenya Ferry Services boss Bakari Gowa yesterday.
According to designs seen by the Nation, each ferry will have a seating capacity of 1,391 passengers and a designated area for people living with disability, the elderly and expectant women.
Currently, commuters - including the sick - must stand while travelling in some of the ferries including MV Nyayo, MV Harambee and MV Kilindini.
The vessels with the capacity to carry 64 vehicles will also have two rescue and emergency boats on-board, the plans show.
Unlike the old ferries, the new ones will also have washrooms for passengers.
“In the new ferries, passengers will be on the upper deck and vehicles in the lower one. We expect the August and December holidays to best as we will have free flow of services,” Mr Gowa said.
The development comes as hundreds of commuters were stranded for hours resulting in a massive traffic jam when MV Nyayo and MV Harambee developed mechanical issues.
The incident happened Tuesday last week after a pontoon on the Island side of Mtongwe channel was swept away by heavy currents.
Kenyans crossing the channels are also facing hard times following an increase in population at the South Coast.
“It will take the whole of this week before the pontoon is put up, but that will be temporary because we are considering putting ramps at a cost of Sh120 million,” said Mr Gowa.