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CS criticised for failing to act on 'lax' ferry bosses

By Moses Njagih | November 6th 2019
By Moses Njagih | November 6th 2019

Transport CS James Macharia. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia was at pains to explain why the management of Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) was still in office even after the State corporation's board was sent packing following a recent disaster.

Members of a parliamentary committee took the CS to task on why he had not cracked the whip on the KFS management, as the implementing authority, and thus the one to blame for the wanting state of ferries.

The minister was also hard-pressed to explain to the Public Investment Committee (PIC) why three vessels that had been condemned by an international regulator, Lloyd’s Register, were still in operation years later.

Macharia admitted that so far no action had been taken against any manager or staff over the disaster in which a woman and her daughter drowned at the Likoni Channel in September. He said the incident was still under investigation.

Last week, it emerged before the committee that the immediate former chairman of the KFS board Dan Mwazo had, in a confidential letter to Macharia, called for the immediate termination of Managing Director Bakari Gowa’s contract and a shake-up of top management to address what he termed as wanting state of operations at the State corporation.

When he appeared before the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, Macharia was accused of retaining the management.

“If the board has gone home, why is the management still in the office?” posed Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa.

Macharia said if investigations showed that the incident occurred due to an act of negligence by staff, then action would be taken on the culprits.

The CS further defended the decision by KFS to shift from Lloyd to Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), saying its certification had assured the seaworthiness of the ferries.

Nassir wondered why KFS, which is a signatory to the International Maritime Organisation, had opted for local regulation. This, he said, was meant to beat the strict requirements of the international regulator.

The MPs said it was safer for the ferries to stop working than to continue operating in risky conditions.

Macharia, however, said they complied with International Maritime Organisation standards.

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