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Delight as new ferry is offloaded amid hope of booming business

BUSINESS
By | June 4th 2010

By Patrick Beja

One of the two new ferries from Hamburg, Germany, has been delivered.

The ferry was Thursday offloaded in a record four hours from the ship that brought it on Wednesday.

Hundreds of Mombasa residents and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) workers watched marine engineers from Beluga Projects lower Mv Likoni from the ship deck and put it on water.

The ferry touched the cool waters of the Kilindini channel at noon. The operation to offload it began at 8am.

Kenya Ports Authority workers and Mombasa residents watch as Mv Likoni, one of the two new ferries bought from Germany, offloaded at Kilindini Channel, Thursday. [PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD]

The engineers tied strong ropes round the ferry and used winches with hooks to lift it and place it on water amid excitement from onlookers.

At one point, the ship leaned on one side under the weight of the ferry being lifted, but was later balanced.

The other ferry, Mv Kwale, is expected to be offloaded today.

Testing first

Mr Harun Mutiso, a Kenya Ferry Services Public Relations Officer, said the exercise could be concluded today. "The ferries will be tested after offloading," he said.

It might take longer to remove Mv Kwale from the ship since it was carried in a hatch and some heavy metal covers have to be opened in order to lift it out.

The area around Mv Beluga, which shipped the ferries from Germany, was sealed off when the operation started.

KFS Managing Director Musa Hassan Musa has said the ferries would be offloaded within four days and commissioned in two and half weeks.

"We are excited to receive these ferries which arrived 10 days earlier than expected. This marks the final process in the procurement of the ferries," Mr Musa said.

He said the new ferries would boost services and enable them withdraw the existing vessels for refurbishment. "We have a refurbishment programme for the ferries, which will be effected when the new ferries are commissioned," Musa added.

The two smallest and oldest ferries Mv Pwani and Mv Mvita will be dedicated to Mtongwe passenger services when the new ferries become operational to decongest the Likoni main crossing.

Enhance safety

And by July this year, KFS would commission the refurbishment and expansion of the Likoni ferry ramps to allow three ferries to dock instead of two.

The long-term plan would see KFS reopen the Likoni old ferry crossing and dedicate for trucks delivering cargo to Tanzania to further decongest Likoni Channel.

Meanwhile, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast Chairman Titus Kangangi and Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association Vice-Chairman Mohamed Hersi welcomed the arrival of the vessels.

The hoteliers also challenged KFS to enhance safety at the Likoni channel. "With the arrival of the ferries, the South Coast hotels should expect booming business in the high season beginning July because there will be no more delay," Mr Kangangi said.

Mr Hersi urged the Government to push for the construction of the Dongo Kundu fixed by-pass as a lasting solution to the congestion at the Likoni crossing.

He said the population of ferry users was growing fast and soon the ferries will not cope unless a fixed by-pass is built.

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