Relief as services resume at Mtongwe ferry, a year later

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Passengers disembark from ‘Mv Kwale’ at the Mtongwe ferry crossing channel soon after services resumed yesterday after a nine-month closure. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) has announced the resumption of operations at the Mtongwe ferry crossing channel after a one-year suspension.

KFS Managing Director Bakari Goa stated that services had been suspended in September 2019, to pave way for rehabilitation. Repair works cost taxpayers Sh28 million.

Services at the ferry have been on-and-off since its re-launch in March 2017 by President Uhuru Kenyatta, largely due to the breakdown of the ferries that inconvenienced commuters in Mtongwe area.

In a statement, Goa assured residents of the resumption of ferry operations after completion of infrastructure upgrade.

John Wanje, a commuter, said the resumption of services will now cut his transportation costs as he has been spending between Sh60 and Sh80 to use the Likoni channel.  

“We have suffered for almost nine months now. We can now breathe a sigh of relief after the services have resumed.

This service will reduce congestion at the Busy Likoni Crossing Channel,” said Wanje, a businessman who commutes daily to Mombasa Island.

Works at the channel involved repairs of ferry landing platforms, pillars and the gangways on both sides of the channel.

Yesterday, only one Ferry MV Kwale was operating across the Mtongwe Island channel. 

Temporary repairs were undertaken to ensure the safety of users. KFS management had said the pontoons (landing platforms) were last repaired in 2013. 

 Island side pontoon was washed away by the Indian Ocean waves in an incident that sparked safety concerns among users. The pillars holding the pontoon were overwhelmed by the waves after heavy rains.

Cushions residents

Daily services will see one ferry operate between 5am and 10 am and then resume from 3pm to 7.30pm.

Michael Ogwambo, chairman of the Mtongwe ferry Users Association, has now appealed to the government to sustain the service to cushion Mtongwe residents from the perennial Likoni Ferry gridlocks.

“National government should now work to retain the ferry. We are tired of experiencing an on and off service that sometimes looks like it’s politically driven, and only comes during political seasons,” he said. 

Zablo Bidii, a guard at Valentine School, says the service resumption is a huge  relief since he will always report and leave work on time, unlike before where he used to endure traffic gridlock when using the Likoni channel.

Back-and-forth of the channel’s re-opening had resulted in underground protest by the ferry users, who now go through the Likoni channel.

Channel has been faced with congestion, partly because of the Mtongwe residents using the Likoni channel.

Four ferries including Mv Jambo, Mv Safari, Mv Kilindini, Mv Kwale and Mv Nyayo are now serving the channel.

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