By: MOHAMED AHMED
Panic gripped the Likoni Channel on Tuesday morning when one of the ferries developed a mechanical problem and overshot a ramp on the mainland.
The stalling of MV Harambee which has been operating despite being faulty caused a huge commotion with angry commuters venting their anger on a security guard who was manning the channel.
The rowdy commuters, who claimed they had been at the waiting bay for hours beat the guard as he tried to calm the situation.
The guard was however, rescued by police who shot into the air to disperse the irate crowd.
The guard from Texas Alarms was treated at the Coast General Hospital and discharged. Dr Zeinab Adan, who attended to the guard said he had soft tissue injuries on his face and a minor cut on his forehead.
Likoni OCPD, Willy Simba said of the incident: “The guard was attacked by a mob and we have already rushed him to Tudor Sub County Hospital for treatment. We had to deploy more officers to man the area because the commuters were so disruptive.”
Some passengers using the channel blamed the victim for stopping them from accessing the ferries.
“How do you try to stop thousands of frustrated people who have been kept waiting for more than an hour?” posed Mr Yasin Abdulkadir, a passenger who had spent more than two hours in his car.
The incident led to long queues on both mainland and the Island sides.
This is the second time, the Mv Harambee stalled on the ramp due to mechanical problems. On November 12, it got stuck on the Mombasa Island side.
Last week, Kenya Ferry Services Managing Director, Musa Hassan Musa said Mv Harambee, requires urgent replacement of two engines but financial constraints has made them use the vessel.
The incident comes at a time when the National Treasury released Sh84 million to KFS out of which Mr Musa said Sh18 million would be paid to an engineering firm for the release of another ferry, Mv Kilindini, which was being repaired.
MV Kilindini is expected to be back in operation on Monday to pave way for the repair of Mv Harambee.
Ferry services at the Likoni channel — clearly a disaster in waiting — are yet to improve despite an assurance from Kenya Ferry Services management last week.
Managing Director Hassan Musa assured that the ferry, MV Harambee which has engine problems would be withdrawn for repair on Monday after Treasury disbursed Sh84 million for operational costs.
MV Kilindini which had undergone repairs was supposed to resume operations on Monday to pave the way for the replacement of MV Harambee’s two engines.
On Tuesday, Mr Musa said the faulty ferry (MV Harambee) was still in use since the repaired one was still being painted.
He said after the painting of MV Kilindini is completed, the ferry will undergo tests before it resumes operations next Monday.
“Passengers should bear with us as we cannot withdraw the faulty ferry from the channel until MV Kilindini undergoes tests on Friday,” he said.
“We expect services to improve from Monday when the repaired ferry will be back,” he added.
He blamed the passengers for Tuesday’s incident saying they “needed to be impatient.’’
“Sometimes, we are forced to call police when the passengers lose their patience and forcefully get into the ferries,” he said.
Last week, Mr Musa attributed the transport crisis at the channel to the expiry of the lifespan of five ferries more than 10 years ago.
He said ferry services would improve if the government purchases five new ones at a cost of Sh4.5 billion.
Transport principal secretary Mr John Mosonik says the earliest new ferries can be delivered is end of next year.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION