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House team recommends new ferries for Likoni channel

A  committee of the National Assembly wants the National Government to buy four new ferries for the Likoni channel to avert a transport crisis.

The committee on infrastructure, energy and transport asked the Attorney General to support the procurement of two ferries at a cost of Sh1.3 billion to be built and delivered within 18 months.

Committee chairman Maina Kamanda said yesterday it was also pushing for the release of another Sh700 million from the Treasury as deposit for the purchase of another two new ferries to be delivered by end of 2017.

He spoke when he led the committee on a tour of Likoni ferries and the infrastructure in the Likoni channel where he expressed shock that only two ferries were operating the channel used by 300,000 commuters daily.

“We will also be pushing for funds to be set aside in the budget so that a new ferry is procured every financial year until we have enough vessels. The ferries are old and we don’t want a disaster to happen,” said Mr Kamanda.

The committee also inspected the security facilities, including the closed circuit televisions and commended efforts to secure the channel. Kamanda said the long-term solution to the increasing congestion at the Likoni channel lies in building a bridge.

He also said the committee would tour the Dongo Kundu bypass project to see its progress as it is expected to reduce congestion at the ferry. The committee warned the contractor building a section of entry road serving the Likoni channel to speed up and finish the project within three months to ease traffic congestion on the south mainland.

“We will come back in the next three months to see whether the contractor has completed his work because he has no reason to delay the project after being paid,” Kamanda said.

The Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) operates five vessels instead of seven, after two of them were withdrawn because they are too old.

The remaining vessels have to be taken for maintenance in turns, leading to delays particularly during peak hours.

Also present at the tour were MP Mishi Mboko, KFS managing director Musa Hassan Musa and chairman James Fondo.

Mr Musa appealed to the committee when he appeared before it in Nairobi to support the purchase of new ferries as the current vessels are old.

“We have had consultations with the County Government urging them to help procure a ferry for Mtongwe and we hope this will happen,” Musa said.

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