Coast lobbies term Uhuru move to fire KFS board a public relations stunt

Saturday, October 19th, 2019 00:00 |
Passengers embark from a ferry at the Lokoni Crossing Channel last month. PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

Monica Kagia

Civil society organisations from the Coast region have termed the move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) board members “a public relations stunt”.

Led by Haki Africa, the lobbies claimed the move would not solve anything if the root causes of the problems haunting the ferry services are not addressed.

Haki Africa rapid response officer Mathias Shipeta said it is regrettable that the focus of responsibility after the recent disaster at the ferry crossing has been shifted to the wrong people.

The activists said the President should take urgent legal action to restore confidence in KFS and make more sustainable reforms instead of firing the board.

Kenya Community Support Centre, Ujamaa Centre Organisation, Haki na Usawa, High Voice Africa, and Manyatta Youth Entertainment CBO from Likoni, among others, said the ferry services management requires policy rethinking.

They called for an overhaul of the ferries being used and the purchase of new vessels that uphold the dignity of commuters.

In addition, the groups voiced concerns of corruption at the ferry services, saying: “In 2018, the Auditor General said he could not confirm the accuracy of claims of the building and supply of two ferries that cost Sh2billion.”

The lobbies also want KFS to hire divers and train then to meet international standards. They also demanded that the findings of the investigations into the accident that led to the death of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu be made public.

Residents also joined in the debate, with some saying Uhuru's move was a knee-jerk reaction. Pascal Karisa said policy on safety at the ferry should be a priority and funds should to go along with it.

“Even if you appoint me when I have good ideas and I cannot implement them because of lack of policy directives and funds, then we are wasting time,” he said.

However, some locals supported the President's move to fire the board, saying the members failed in their mandate.

“It is unfair to say that the President is pointing a finger at the wrong people. Who are the people on the ground? A boss gives work to different people and if he feels they do not fulfil the mandate he appointed them for he has a right to sack them,” said Omari Addalla, a Likoni resident.

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