A transport crisis is looming in Mombasa after the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) withdrew two ferries operating at the Likoni Channel.
The new Mv Jambo, commissioned by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia on August 7, 2017, and Mv Nyayo, in operation since 1990, were withdrawn after they developed mechanical problems.
Mv Jambo’s clutch and Mv Nyayo’s engine broke down, according to KFS managing director Bakari Gowa.
Mv Jambo and Mv Safari, which is yet to be delivered, cost the Kenyan taxpayer Sh1.9 billion.
Mr Gowa on Monday said the technical team was working round the clock to repair the ferries.
“The ferries are being worked on and by the end of the day Mv Nyayo will be operational,” he said in an interview with the Nation at the mainland ramp of the channel.
“For Mv Jambo, we have ordered some accessories from abroad which will be in the country by Wednesday and hopefully by Friday the vessel will be back in operation.”
The withdrawal of the two ferries has left Mv Kilindini, Mv Harambee and Mv Likoni to cater for the huge numbers of people and vehicles crossing the channel.
The channel connects Mombasa and Kwale counties.
Motorists using the channel were Monday morning forced to queue for long before boarding the ferries.
This resulted in traffic a snarl-up on both sides of the channel as the management struggled to help pedestrians cross the Indian Ocean.
Police, who were ferried to the mainland side in vehicles, kept watch on irate commuters who caused chaos last Friday.
The hundreds of commuters poured on the mainland ramp after they were delayed for more than an hour when Mv Likoni temporarily stalled.
The Mv Likoni was on Tuesday recalled from Mtongwe Channel and is operating at the Likoni Channel to help ease the congestion.
Mv Likoni usually operates at the Mtongwe Channel and serves at least 15,000.
However, its withdrawal has forced its customers to use the Likoni Channel, compounding the problem at the busy passage.
Mr Gowa said once the two ferries are repaired, services at the Mtongwe Channel, which were re-launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2017, would resume.
“We just urge our users to be patient as we put more effort to ensure operations run smoothly. We ask motorists who are flexible to use the channel early to avoid the peak-hour crisis,” he said.
Currently, more than 320, 000 people and 6,000 vehicles use Likoni Channel every day.
Speaking during his tour of the Coast, Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday said efforts were afoot to reduce congestion at the Likoni Channel.
A dual carriage way, he said, will be build from Likoni to Ukunda and a bridge erected to connect Mombasa with Kwale counties.
“We have allocated Sh9 billion for the construction of a road from port of Mombasa second container terminal to Mwache in Kwale County and either I or the president will soon come to commission it,” he said.
“A road from Dongo Kundu-Mwache-Kibundani, which is almost 20 kilometers, will be constructed at a cost of Sh25 billion to end congestion at Likoni ferry.”