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Stricken ferry to resume operations next week

MV Kwale which rammed MV Safari on Friday leaving scores of people with injuries. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The stricken Mv Safari,which was rammed and dented by a smaller ferry on the Likoni Channel, will be out of service until next week.

There were reports yesterday that maritime surveyor Bureau Veritas inspected the damage and suspended MV Safari’s safety licence.

But Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) Managing Director Bakari Gowa said Bureau Veritas had assessed the vessel and ruled that the damage was minimal.

“Bureau Veritas have not suspended the safety worthiness certificate and we expect after thorough cleaning of the ferry’s mechanical systems, it will be back in operations next week,” Gowa said on telephone.

Twenty five passengers were hurt in a stampede when the MV Safari was rammed by the smaller MV Kwale on Tuesday evening.

The ferry is now docked at the Mbaraki wharf next to the Likoni ferry crossing channel. 

Bureau Veritas carries out inspections for sea vessels and issues certificates to allow them operate.

Information is scanty on when the firm carried out due diligence inspection after the Tuesday accident.

Size of hole

A source familiar with KFS operations told the Sunday Standard that during the accident on Tuesday evening, MV Safari was on the South mainland side offloading vehicular traffic when MV Kwale, known to have issues with its steering powers, rammed it on the side.

“The place that ruptured is made up of insulation ware on the inner wall and this could be the reason why sea water did not enter the open wall with force. If this had happened then the vessel would have taken in more water,  thereafter sinking,” a KFS worker who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

The size of the hole caused by the impact of the accident measures about two feet.

“This helped slow down sea water from gushing inside. A dabler plate was placed above the huge hole to serve as temporary repair. Damage assessment done showed that engine installations that included electrical components like circuit breakers were damaged leading to loss of power.”

The ferry has two powerful Volvo Penta engines powered by marine diesel.

“Apart from carrying out rigid repairs to the damaged section, one of the engine rooms that took in water from the gaping hole will have to be cleaned thoroughly with fresh water before attempts are made to revive it. Oil had mixed with sea water that found its way when the accident occurred. This oil will have to be flushed out completely. However the control switch board was not affected,” added the source.

The brand new MV Safari made history when it sailed on its own from its manufacturing base in Turkey, in April to Mombasa unlike other ferries bought by the government that are normally loaded aboard submersible vessels before they are delivered.

The latest accident involving the safety of the ferries that carry thousands of commuters and vehicles across the busy channel has raised sharp focus on maintenance and procurement of spare parts by KFS.

Following the incident, unconfirmed reports indicated that staff morale at KFS  was low with workers complaining that management had failed to ensure they operate in secure, safe and comfortable work environments. 

During the Tuesday incident, there was a stampede after commuters in Mv Kwale dashed for safety.

At least 22 people who were injured and rushed to Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital by the Kenya Red Cross and Mombasa County paramedics.

The stampede is the first major incident to happen at the Likoni ferry crossing channel since October 2019 when a vehicle slipped from the ferry midstream and plunged into the deep sea with two occupants.

The bodies of the two – a mother and her daughter – were later retrieved following sustained public pressure ahead of the October 20, 2019, Mashujaa Day celebrations that were held at the Mama Ngina waterfront.

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