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Maritime Authority on spot over the its "wanting" regulatory decisions to ferry services

By Moses Njagih | October 31st 2019

The maritime regulator is on the spot for allowing Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) to continue operating old, unsafe ferries.

Top managers from the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) will tomorrow appear before Parliament's Public Investments Committee (PIC) in Mombasa to explain why they continuously certified KFS to operate the vessels.

KMA's regulatory decisions were questioned after KFS officials admitted to the parliamentary committee on Tuesday that they were allowed to operate three vessels that had in 2007 been declared unseaworthy by Lloyd’s Register, an international maritime regulator.

International regulatory requirements bar ferries that are 30 years and older from being in operation.

“There are very serious issues that have come up concerning the safety of ferries. We want to know how KMA, as the regulator, allowed KFS to operate its vessels with glaring safety concerns," said PIC Chairman Abdulswamad Nassir.

"The level of neglect is wanting. We will be seeking responses from them when we meet in Mombasa.”

The three ferries under scrutiny are MV Harambee, MV Nyayo and MV Kilindini.

In a sitting last Tuesday, the parliamentary committee was told that despite new regulations being introduced in 2016, giving new qualifications for coxswains, KMA has continued certifying KFS coxswains under old regulations adopted in the 1970s.

KFS Managing Director Bakari Gowa admitted that none of the coxswains running the ferries meets the current requirements.

Mr Gowa said KFS had even advertised for the position of a chief coxswain, but it is yet to be filled since there is no one qualified under the new regulations.

In a report in 2016, former Auditor General Edward Ouko described the vessels as a “disaster in waiting”.

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