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Lack of funds to blame for ferry woes at Likoni channel

COAST
By Philip Mwakio | October 29th 2015

A top national government official has criticised Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa’s conduct over the chaos at the Likoni channel. Transport and Infrastructure Principal Secretary John Musonik  declared that Mr Marwa was ill-advised to demand the removal  of the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) Managing Director Hassan Musa following recent mishaps at Likoni.

Transport Principal Secretary John Musonik (left), flanked the Managing Director Kenya Ferry Services Musa Hassan(right) and officials from both the Ministry and the Ferry is led in a tour at the Ferry Office Headquaters at Likoni, in Mombasa County on Wednesday,028th October,2015. Musonik was in fact finding tour of the Ferry Services that was in crisis early this week after the withdrawal of two others for routine maintanance. (PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/ STANDARD)

The PS also admitted that lack of adequate funding is a leading cause of inefficiency and poor  performance at KFS. Mr Musonik who visited KFS headquarters in Mombasa yesterday, accused Marwa of intimidating other civil servants. The PS said no civil servant has a right to harass or intimidate others and added that the Government has proper channels to address grievances.

“KFS reports to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure where I sit as principal secretary, thus any

grievances or issues that touch on operational glitches should be made available to me,’’ Eng Musonik said.

Lack of adequate funding is a leading cause of inefficiency and poor performance at the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), the Government has said.

Yesterday, independent maritime consultant Andrew Mwangura argued that besides the issue of inadequate funding, KFS lacks relevant professionals to run its vessels and other maritime operations.

Mr Mwangura noted that professionalism is also lacking in the way KFS is run, adding that there is a lot of political interference in the way it operates.

"The top brass, including the board of directors, are all political appointees. There is need to ensure that professionals with vast knowledge on marine operations are put in charge of such vital marine-related organisations," he said.

Mwangura said when KFS used to be under the defunct Kenya Bus Service (KBS) and the former Mombasa Municipal Council, its operations were above board.

"There were no teething problems like what is being witnessed today where ferry breakdowns seem to be the order of the day," he observed.

He wondered why the Government was seeking international tenders to have ferries constructed abroad yet a local consortium working in conjunction with an overseas firm has successfully assembled a ferry destined for Lake Albert in Uganda at a local shipyard.

"If we are to fully promote the Buy Kenya, Build Kenya slogan, the use of local shipyards to construct ferries is the way to go," Mwangura said.

However, a top national government official has criticised Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa for publicly demanding the removal of KFS Managing Director Musa Hassan.

Transport Principal Secretary John Musonik said Mr Marwa was ill advised to demand Mr Musa's removal following the recent chaos where several people were injured in a stampede at the Likoni channel. Marwa alleged corruption was behind the numerous ferry mishaps in Likoni.

 Intimidate others

Musonik visited KFS headquarters in Mombasa yesterday and accused Marwa of intimidating other civil servants. The PS said no civil servant has a right to harass or intimidate others and added that the government has proper channels to address grievances.

The PS said those accusing KFS of incompetence are ignorant.

"Any kind of utterances from any quarters regarding ferry operations will not be tolerated. Anyone with issues should address them to the ministry and not any other means, including the Press," he said.

Musonik said KFS sought Sh3.7 billion for operational costs, including maintenance costs for the 2015-2016 financial year, but was given Sh2.2 billion instead, adding that only Sh84 million had been disbursed.

"The ferry operator has to make do with overage equipment as you know that three of the ferries in operation (Nyayo, Kilindini and Harambee) were procured in 1990, while the remaining two are over five years old," said the PS.

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