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A bypass might solve the ferry debacle

Updated Thursday, January 28th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3
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Ngumbao Kithi

The nightmarish congestion at the Likoni Ferry will not end any time soon after the Government delayed to finance the Dongo Kundu bypass.

The bypass would have been a welcome relief to the hours-on-end snarl-ups witnessed at the ferry every morning and evening.

Apart from daily commuters, tourists also have to bear with the poor services. Visitors who want to see the many activities at the ferry and enjoy a ride get bored by the ferry’s slow pace and jostling on the queues.

The congestion has been described as a disaster in waiting due to the frequent stalling and risks of collision.

The 1994 Mtongwe Ferry disaster that killed 160 people is a stark reminder of the risk the old ferries pose. The Kenya Association of Tour Operators expressed fears that due to overloading at peak hours, the vessels risked sinking.

Stalling

There are only five vessels — MV Harambee, MV Nyayo, MV Kilindini, MV Mvita and MV Pwani — plying the Likoni channel, too few for the often-heavy traffic. Some of them occasionally stall, causing panic among commuters.

However, the Kenya Maritime Authority says there is no risk of the vessels sinking. The authority says their continued servicing and repairs ensures they are safe.

According to the Kenya Ferry Services, the construction of a land route between Mombasa and South Coast to ease congestion at the ferry was yet to begin, more than ten years after the discussions.

The bypass was a longer land route for motorists, leaving the ferries to transport passengers and a few vehicles. The land route, according to experts, was supposed to link the Likoni-Diani road at Shika Adabu to the South and the Mombasa-Nairobi highway at Miritini to the North.

The initial search focused on three areas — a land route of about 24km, a complete sea route measuring between 12-13Km and a combination of land and sea route of about 13km.

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