Senate team declares five Likoni ferries deathtraps

Monday, October 28th, 2019 00:00 |
The car in which Marriam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu drowned in when it rolled off ‘MV Harambee’ is pulled out of the Indian Ocean on October 11. Photo/PD/NDEgwa Gathungu

Senators have raised the alarm about the state of five vessels operated by the  Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), terming them potential deathtraps.

According to a report tabled in the Senate, MV Kwale, MV Nyayo, MV Kilindini, MV Harambee and MV Likoni, all plying the Likoni channel, are either dysfunctional or lack basic safety requirements.

In particular, the report reveals that MV Harambee does not have functional ramps nor any safety mechanisms, which is a contravention of International Safety Management (ISM) regulations, that require all vessels to dry-dock after 8,500 hours of operation.

The report faults KFS for operating MV Harambee, MV Nyayo and MV Kilindini which have already been decommissioned. The three were bought by President Daniel arap Moi government as second-hand vessels in 1990.

The report tabled by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr on Wednesday said the ferries endangered the lives of more than 300,000 passengers and more than 6,000 motorists using the Likoni channel every day.

“I have it on record that the ramps commonly referred to as prows are not functioning and in the case of MV Kilindini, the prows are rising at less than 45 degrees,” he said on the floor of the House on Wednesday.

“Had the ramp of MV Harambee been functioning properly, the death of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu on 29th September 2019, could have been avoided,” he added.

Kighenda and Mutheu died when their vehicle rolled off MV Harambee into the Indian Ocean as the ferry was crossing Likoni channel.

Investigations are underway and several employees of KFS who were in charge of the vessel on the day the tragedy happened have been interrogated.


According to Mutula, MV Harambee was rehabilitated, in what is commonly referred to in maritime terms as a dry-dock, at a cost of Sh157 million in the Financial Year 2016/17.

“I strongly suspect that the money was misappropriated. This matter requires urgent investigations,” he said.

Mutula also called for a probe into the management of African Marine Limited which KFS has single-sourced for the servicing of its vessels. 

He termed the revocation of the KFS board as a cover-up for the incompetent and corrupt management of the State body.

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