Likoni calamity exposed how low Kenya has sunk
A parliamentary committee’s investigations into the Likoni channel tragedy, which claimed a woman and her daughter, over months ago has recommended the ill-fated ferry and two others be grounded.
The team said though Mariam Kighenda, who was driving the car when it slipped into the Indian Ocean, drowning her and her daughter Amanda Mutheu, had not followed the proper lines when boarding MV Harambee ferry, the carrier should be grounded as it is defective.
The Senate Committee on Roads and Transportation said the ferry ramp was not properly drawn, which left the victims’ car at a sloping angle.
The two died when their vehicle plunged into the ocean after slipping off MV Harambee on September 29. The bodies of mother, aged 35 and her four-year-old child as well as the wreckage of their car were retrieved on October 10, 13 days after the accident.
“The video replays of the incident indicate that the driver and passenger of the vehicle, the late Ms Mariam Kighenda and Amanda Mutheu, had not in fact exited their vehicle nor lowered their widows which meant that they could not escape in the event that the vehicle slipped into the sea,” said the committee, chaired by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi, in the report tabled in the House on Thursday.
The committee revealed that there were no emergency rescue vehicles at the time of the accident, which meant that the victims could not be saved from drowning.
The team cautioned that some of the ferries currently in operation, particularly the older vessels, do not have functional ramps which exposes users to the risk of slipping overboard into the sea.
In addition, there was rudimentary rescue service in place following the accident, and more needed to be done to avoid similar incidents in the future.
As such, the committee has directed the agency to ensure all operating ferries have functional ramps in order to prevent a repeat of the incident that occurred on September 29.
“The committee recommends the halting (of services) of the defective ferries such as MV Harambee, MV Nyayo, MV Kilindini until funds are available to procure new ones,” the team held.
“The Ministry of Transport should ensure that all future ferry vessels have available spare parts within the market for ease of maintenance,” they said.
The committee has asked the KFS to outfit its vehicles for persons with disability in accordance with section 23 of the Persons with Disability Act, 2003.
Further, the team held that KFS should ensure that it is protected from potentially adverse litigation arising from breach of occupier’s liability.
This comes even as the body of John Mutinda and his car were retrieved on Saturday, after plunging into the Indian Ocean early that morning.
According to the Kenya Ferry Services, Mutinda’s car sped off the ramp.
The agency claimed the driver failed to stop the vehicle despite several efforts by ferry officials to flag him down.