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State to blame for frequent ferry breakdowns, say rights groups

COAST
By Benard Sanga | December 28th 2015

Inadequate budgetary allocations and delayed disbursement of cash to the Kenya Ferry Services are to blame for frequent vessel breakdowns, rights groups have said.

A new report by six civil society groups dated December 20 has petitioned the national government to urgently construct a bridge to connect Mombasa Island to Likoni.

The groups noted that ferry services at the channel could not cope with the ever-rising number of commuters.

“The information we gather from KFS indicates that in 2011/2012, the proposed budget was Sh3.5 billion, but it was allocated a paltry Sh37m. In 2012/2013 it requested Sh3.1 billion but was allocated Sh342 million,” states a report released in Mombasa on Boxing Day.

The groups said in the 2014/2015 financial year, KFS requested Sh3.6 billion but was allocated Sh600 million for the purchase of two ferries and that in the current financial year, it was allocated Sh1.428 billion out of the Sh3.4 billion it had budgeted for.

The groups unveiled their report in Mombasa after a two-week probe into the perpetual ferry breakdowns and snarl-ups at the Likoni crossing channel.

The report indicated the Government had also underfunded KFS, which had proposed a recurrent budget of Sh917 million, but was allocated Sh376 million.

Budget constraints

“Delayed and less disbursement from the national government and given that ferry charges were last reviewed in 2012 has virtually rendered the ferry management team cash-strapped,” says the report.

The probe revealed that budget constraints had forced KFS to scale down ferry services and slowed down procurement of spare parts.

Genesis for Human Rights Commission Programme Director Caleb Ng’wena, said their investigation also indicated that the organisation’s revenue accounts for 35 per cent of what it is expected collect.

“We are of the opinion that a bridge to connect Mombasa Island with South Coast would be the only lasting solution to the said crippling transport crisis at the Likoni channel because current ferries cannot cope with the massive number of commuters and vehicles crossing the channel daily,” said Mr Ng’wena.

Other organisations involved in the research were Commission for Human Rights for Justice, Christian for Human Rights, Prepared Society, People’s Movement for Human Rights and the Centre for Human rights Initiative.

“These numbers (pedestrian) cross free of charge as per the 1969 presidential decree and the Government is required to compensate for the same. At this rate and the expected increase of the population in Likoni and high development trend in Kwale, KFS expects pedestrians to hit 500,000 per a day in the next three years,” said Ng’wena.

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