Pomp as world's largest floating book fair docks in Mombasa

A section of the world's largest floating book fair, MV Logos Hope, at the Port of Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

It was a beehive of activities at the Kilindini channel when MV Logos Hope, the world's largest floating book fair, sailed into Mombasa Port on its maiden visit, where it will stay for a record 45 days.

The library section consists of some 5,000 different book titles, which are offered for sale at subsidised rates.

The 135.2 metres long, width of 20.8, a draft of 5.2 metres with a carrying capacity of 12,519 tonnes come alongside the Mbaraki Wharf, where Mombasa County and the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) officials received it.

Three powerful multi-purpose tug boats belonging to KPA went out to sea to escort the vessel into the harbour with a traditional maritime welcome water canon salute.

The vessel, which has passengers from over 70 nationalities, will be open to the public for ship visits after a high-profile official launch ceremony.

Kenyan seafarer, Christine Chongo works onboard the vessel as a First engineer, while three others serve as volunteers.

Mr Walid Timimi, Marine Services Manager at Inchcape Shipping Services, who are the vessel's local ground handling agents, said that the vessel's visit and long stay signifies Kenya's attraction as a destination worth visiting.

He said that after the normal clearance of all those on board, the vessel will start taking onboard visitors from today from 1pm.

KPA principal communication officer, Mr Haji Masemo, said the ship's visit marked an early cruise tourism season.

''The ship comes ahead of the normal cruise season from September to March. We are hoping for improved port visits now that we have the multi-million shilling cruise terminal complete and already operational awaiting commissioning before the end of the year,'' Masemo said.

Mombasa Deputy Governor, Mr Francis Thoya, visited the ship yesterday accompanied by several county executives.

Mombasa County Executive Committee Member for Tourism Osman Mohamed and his Education counterpart Mbwarali Kame lauded the vessel operators for choosing Mombasa as their port of call.

'' We are delighted today to welcome this vessel here and wish to assure all those onboard and visitors alike of a memorable stay,'' Mohamed said.

Sailing under the Maltese flag with 350 passengers of 70 different nationalities, the ship will open its doors to members of the public to select books of their choice from a wide array of genres, including science, sports, hobbies, language, faith, cookery arts and purchase medicine.

For 45 days, visitors will be treated to the fun of touring the expansive vessel to explore other amenities like the international café, visitors deck and welcome area, among others.

During its port stay, people from all walks of life will have a chance to not only tour the ship, whose goal is to share knowledge, help and bring hope, but all have a chance to buy books from a wide selection.

Some locals have been hired to work as volunteers during the ship's stay.

KPA General Manager, Technical Services, Engineer Julius Tai, presented the ship master with a certificate of the first port call.

Ms Constanza Figuera who was part of a three-person advanced team and a programmes officer onboard Logos Hope, said that the ship will host several events onboard and ashore to share culture and knowledge.

Earlier, KPA managing director Captain William Ruto hailed the arrival of the vessel terming it significant not only for the port of Mombasa but the country at large.

He noted that the ship’s visit implied that Kenya is making progress towards reclaiming her position as a cruise hub in the Indian Ocean cruise circuit.

“As a port Authority, we have made significant strides to improve cruise reception facilities, notably completion of a modern cruise terminal, a dredged channel, improved security and safety standards in compliance with the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code,” Ruto added.

The MD commended Inchcape Shipping Agent for the exemplary arrangement to bring the ship to Mombasa.

“We also wish to thank other partners who have worked tirelessly to ensure a successful voyage to Mombasa by the vessels,'' he said.