There is a crisis at the Likoni Ferry docks. The impending crisis is like a time bomb waiting to explode. The warning signs are in air but those concerned are ignoring them.
The Likoni Ferry is a boat service across the Kilindini Harbor that serves both the Mombasa City and the Kenyan mainland town of Likoni. The ferry serves thousands of passengers who use to operate between the two main lands. The ferry does not only serve pedestrians but both cars as well as animals. It is, therefore, very important to everyone in the region. Without the ferry, most services will stall including children who depend on it to go to school.
A ferry that carries thousands of people at a go has to be secure. This is not the case with the Likoni Ferry. It has now emerged that five ferries are unseaworthy. These five ferries have outlived their lifespan more than ten years ago. The fact is, the five ferries being used were supposed to be out of service ten years ago. The ferries, due to their old age, frequently break down anywhere and anytime without warning.
Despite the fact that a ferry has a lifespan of 15 years, MV Mvita is 46 years old, MV Pwani is 40 years old while MV Nyayo, MV Harambee and MV Kilindini expired ten years ago. The number of people who use the ferry daily has grown five times from 60,000 in 1995 to 300,000 in 2014 with the number of vehicles using the ferry rising from between 2800 and 3000 in 2010 to 5000 in 2014.
There has been allegations of misappropriation of funds meant to sustain and maintain the ferries with little being done to investigate the matter. Where is the money that is usually collected daily from the cars? Where does this money go? These is how the charges are;
Now, let us be realistic here, a total of 5000 vehicles pass through this channels every day. Let us give them an average of 200 shillings per vehicle. This implies that at least one million shillings is collected every day. Where does this money go? Why are the stakeholders quiet about the issue? Do they know that the lives of thousands of Kenyans are at risk?
Early last month, eleven people, among them school children were injured during a stampede at the ferry.
The lives of hundreds of thousands of passengers who use the ferry daily at the Likoni channel are now at risk. This is because, the Kenya Ferry Services has been forced to use a ferry that has engine problems. This has been attributed to financial constraints.
A total of seven ferries are used, five of which as discussed above are unseaworthy with two that are operational expected to expire come the year 2020. The MV Harambee for instance which is being operated urgently needs a replacement of the engines.
Last week, MV Harambee stalled along Likoni channel. This caused panic among thousands of passengers when it emerged that the ferry had developed a mechanical problem. Kenya Ferry Services had bought two new engines at a cost of 18 million shillings but the engines cannot be fitted unless an extra 18 million shillings is paid to an engineering firm to allow the release of the repaired ferry. The writings are on the wall.