Five of our ferries are past their sell-by date, top KFS official says

By: MATHIAS RINGA

Five ferries are unseaworthy following the expiry of their lifespan more than 10 years ago, a Kenya Ferry Services top official revealed on Sunday.

Since the five are obsolete, they break down frequently, triggering transport crises at Likoni channel, according to KFS Managing Director Musa Hassan Musa.

The KFS boss said a ferry usually has a lifespan of 15 years.

The unseaworthy ferries are MV Mvita, which is 46 years, while MV Pwani is 40 years old. Others are MV Nyayo, MV Harambee and MV Kilindini which became unseaworthy 10 years ago.

“In 2012, KFS withdrew the oldest ferries, MV Mvita and MV Pwani, from service after the government bought MV Likoni and MV Kwale,” he said.

But the two ferries’ seaworthiness will expire in 2020, piling more misery to ferry users.

He said despite the thorny issue of operating obsolete ferries, the number of passengers crossing the channel daily had soared from 60,000 in 1995 to 300,000 in 2014.

Mr Musa said more than 100 million people used the ferries last year, “one of the highest numbers in the world”.

The number of vehicles ferried daily increased from between 2,800 and 3,000 in 2010 to 5,000 last year.

DEVOLUTION OF FERRY OPERATIONS

He said the number of vehicles would hit the two million mark this year.

Meanwhile, the Transition Authority has cautioned Mombasa MCAs against passing a law that calls for devolution of ferry services.

Last Tuesday, Old Town Ward Rep Amur Murfad moved a motion that would authorise the county government to take over the ferry services at Likoni crossing.

Mr Murfad said it was time the government handed over the services to the devolved unit “since KFS has failed to address the crisis”.

He said frequent ferry breakdowns posed danger to hundreds of thousands of commuters.

Transition Authority Chairman Kinuthia wa Mwangi said passing such a law would be illegal.

The TA boss said operating the ferries was a government function.

“The assembly should stop interfering with the KFS as it is only the national government that is mandated to operate the ferries,” he told the Nation by phone.

Mr Mwangi directed the assembly to withdraw the motion, failure to which it would face legal action. or else it would face legal action.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION