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Relief as stalled ferries resume services at Likoni

Two ferries, which had been withdrawn from the Likoni Channel on Monday leading to commuter chaos and a stampede, resumed operations under the watchful eye of Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa. The stampede that saw eight commuters injured, including school children, occurred when only two ferries were operating instead of four.

Mr Marwa watched as Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) staff tried to manage huge crowds in the morning and evening following the shortage of vessels.

“The traffic flow has improved. The situation is better now,” said Marwa.

Meanwhile, tourism stakeholders at South Coast tourist resorts have urged the national government to find a longterm solution to recurrent delays caused by breakdowns at the Likoni channel.

Several tourists from South Coast missed their flights when they were stranded at the Likoni channel last week.

Two ferries that had been withdrawn from the Likoni channel on Monday leading to commuter chaos and a stampede resumed operations under the watch of Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa.

The stampede that saw eight commuters injured, including schoolchildren, occurred when only two ferries were operating instead of four.

Mr Marwa watched as Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) staff tried to manage huge crowds in the morning and evening following the shortage of vessels.

He expressed relief yesterday when Mv Kwale, which had stalled on the Island ramp on Monday, finally sailed off.

Mv Harambee, which was undergoing repairs, also resumed operations during the evening rush hour.

The fifth ferry, Mv Kilindini, is currently undergoing major structural repairs commonly known as dry-docking at the African Marine and General Engineering Company shipyard.

"The traffic flow has improved. The situation is now better," said Marwa.

Meanwhile, tourism stakeholders in South Coast tourist resorts have urged the national government to find a long-term solution to recurrent delays caused by breakdowns and inefficiency by KFS at the Likoni channel.

Several tourists travelling from the South Coast missed flights to Europe through Moi International Airport in Mombasa when they got stranded at the Likoni channel after the stalling of vessels on Friday.

Speaking in Diani yesterday, Leopard Beach Hotel General Manager Mohamed Omar said that constant delays at the ferry link, which remains vital for accessibility to the South Coast and neighbouring Tanzania, have continued to paint the Coast destination in very bad light.

"We have had tourists missing their flights either out of Mombasa or getting to some national parks in the country by getting caught up in massive traffic jams right at the ferry," he said.

He said while Kenyan tourism is at its recovery phase after two years of a slide owing to travel advisories, such negative impact of missed flights as a result of ferry inefficiency was self-defeating.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (Kahc), Coast branch, said Mombasa and South Coast residents continue to suffer at the hands of KFS with no efforts made to address the delays at the ferry crossing.

Other sources who spoke on condition of anonymity alleged that the efforts to get the management to act have fallen on deaf ears.

On Monday morning, Mr Marwa sharply differed with KFS Managing Director Musa Hassan Musa when they briefly met at the Likoni channel and insisted he (Musa) was the cause of the transport crisis.

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