Near tragedy as tour bus slides into Indian Ocean

Monday, January 11th, 2021 00:00 |
Pollmans Safari Tour Bus that plunged into the Indian ocean at Likoni Ferry channel as the driver Salim Omar and assistant were rescued by local divers, The vehicle slid and lost control while boarding MV Jambo heading to the mainland from Diani where it had dropped tourists due to heavy rainfall. Photo/PD/BONFACE MSANGI

Salim Omar, a driver of a bus owned by a tourist company, that plunged into the Indian Ocean yesterday  said slippery surface orchestrated a drizzle  was to blame for the morning incident.

Just like a normal day Omar, a seasoned driver alongside his conductor were on their return trip to Mombasa Island from Diani in the South Coast where they had dropped tourists the previous night.

But upon reaching the Likoni crossing channel, the bus he was driving lost control as he embarked on the MV Jambo Ferry and slipped towards the deep waters during the 9am incident. Having witnessed similar accidents, Omar says he saw his death coming.

 “I tried to control the steering wheel, but it was all in vain. I applied all brakes but still things didn’t work.

We had returned from Diani to Mombasa but the Morning rain caused the surface of the ferry to be slippery,” narrated Omar who escaped death narrowly.

Onlookers milled around and watched as the duo struggled to get out of the floating bus. Some of the passengers were heard calling on Omar and his colleague to jump out of the bus as they threw floaters to them.

 “It continued to scare me when I started seeing the bus continuing to go deep into the Ocean, at first I said my last prayer, thinking that my last day had reached.

But thank God, the people were too good they responded to our call and rescued us,” said Omar.

Ferry divers

However, after close to 20 minutes of struggle to open door, It took a quick intervention of ferry divers and Kenya Coast Guard who immediately assisted and got them out unhurt.

A nearby fisherman who was riding his motorboat was also seen helping the duo open the bus door out.

The 30-seater bus was pulled out to the shores of the Crossing channel, while the driver and his assistant remained unhurt.

A statement from Pollmans Tours and Safaris confirmed the bus did not have any passengers on board as it had dropped them in Diani on Saturday evening. 

Company statement

“We would like to thank Kenya Ferry Services, Kenya Coast Guard and numerous members of the public who all came to help.

As a leading tour company safety remains our top most priority and we are grateful that there were no fatalities,” said Pollman’s Tours and Safaris company group operations Director Mohammed Hersi.

And separately in a statement Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) assured Kenyans that it will continue to update them on the rescue operations.

“At around 10.45 am this morning, at the Likoni crossing, a minibus Reg no. KCS 909J owned by Pollmans Safaris lost control and plunged into the sea where it was partly submerged with two occupants onboard a driver and his assistant.

This happened, as the driver was about to board MV Jambo from the mainland side.

The two occupants of the ill-fated vehicle were rescued by Kenya Ferry Services crew, Kenya Coast Guards and the National Police Service and taken to safety,” reads a statement from KFS management.

In 2019, Mariam Kigenda, 36, and her daughter Amanda Mutheu, 4, died after their car plunged into the Indian Ocean.

The two died after the vehicle they were travelling in veered off the rear ramp aboard the MV Harambee.

More than 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles cross the Likoni ferry channel every day.

The Likoni ferry, which started operations in 1937, serves Mombasa from the Island to the mainland side of Likoni on the Kilindini Harbour

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