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Eight people injured in a stampede at Likoni ferry

Thousands of commuters crammed on a ferry at the Likoni channel in the Indian Ocean following a shortage of vessels. [Photo: Maarufu Mohamed/Standard]

Eight people, including pupils, were Monday injured in a stampede at the Likoni Ferry channel following a rush to board ferries.

The injured pupils from Ganjoni and Mbaraki Girls Primary schools were caught up in the stampede on the mainland South ramp and suffered slight injuries.

Amina Abdul was injured on her leg and received first aid from Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) personnel while Norah Adhiambo Ochieng fainted after being caught up in the early morning stampede.

A Form Four candidate at Mbaraki Girls Secondary School, Susan Ogutu, was among those admitted at the Coast Provincial General Hospital with leg injuries.

She sat her examinations while in a wheelchair at the hospital. Medical staff, however, said her condition was stable.

Many other students reported late for class while others returned home for fear of being injured in the stampede as thousands of workers were held up and reported to work late.

Chaotic scenes

Examination papers for candidates in secondary schools within Likoni sub-county from a central guardroom on Mombasa island were delayed as a result of the chaotic scenes.

The stampede was, partially, caused by a shortage of ferries plying the Likoni channel since Friday last week.

MV Nyayo was withdrawn Friday morning for repair, a month after another MV Kilindini was also withdrawn for maintenance. This left commuters with two ferries instead of the usual four. Though MV Nyayo resumed services on Friday night as KFS could not deal with huge numbers of commuters.

On Friday, dozens of German tourists travelling from Kwale on the Kenyan South Coast to board a plane at Moi International Airport in Mombasa missed their flights after being stranded at the channel for hours.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was travelling to Kwale, was also stranded at the channel for hours.

Monday morning, a third ferry, MV Kwale, struck the ramp in low tide. No one was injured but its grounding forced commuters to rush for the two remaining vessels, leading to the stampede.

“MV Kwale ran aground when tides suddenly receded, leaving it hanging on the island ramp waiting water to return in the afternoon. This happened when two other ferries were undergoing urgent maintenance,” KFS Corporate Communication and Marketing manager Elizabeth Wachira explained.

A group of 10 tourists headed for an excursion at the idylic Kisite Mpunguti Marine Reserve were held up in a massive jam that built up on Mombasa island side and had to cut short their trip. According to tour guide Ahmed Fumo from Travel Africa Tours, they had arrived at the ferry crossing at 6am but were unable to move an inch.

Probe parastatal

Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa called for immediate sacking of KFS Managing Director Hassan Musa for alleged incompetence and asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe the parastatal.

Marwa pleaded with employers not to reprimand their workers for reporting late Monday saying it was not their fault.

He threatened to personally move to the MD’s office and eject him, claiming further that he aware of a cartel working to swindle money from KFS.

“I have said here today that the problem with KFS lies with the management and it is high time he paves way for more competent Kenyans to steer KFS into more efficiency in operations. Let EACC move in and probe the constant ferry breakdowns. Each time there is a breakdown, they are taken to a shipyard for repairs and we suspect that this could be a ploy by some unscrupulous people to siphon public money,” Marwa said.

Marwa said he had other more pressing issues to handle and not oversee the operations of KFS, whose management has refused to offer efficient service to Kenyans.

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