Ferries stop carrying cars as rains, currents disrupt services

Mv Nyayo which is the largest and oldest vessel at the Likoni crossing channel being towed by KPA tug boat after it developed mechanical problem due to heavy rains/Elkana Jacob

Transport in the Likoni Channel Crossing came to a standstill yesterday morning as ferries struggled to overcome rainwater.

For two hours, the ferries tried to grapple with the muddy waters from small rivers that had flowed into the ocean.

The ocean water was discoloured from its original blue to a muddy brown, making it difficult for the ferry pilots to manoeuvre.

A trip between the mainland and the Island took at least 30 minutes instead of only 10 minutes.

Motorists and commuters, including schoolchildren, were stranded for at least two hours as the ferries were diverted from Mama Ngina to the Port Side.

Kenya Ferry Services MD Bakari Gowa said they have suspended the ferrying of vehicles and are only ferrying commuters, as the heavy currents made it impossible to transport vehicles.

“We have suspended the ferrying of vehicles until the situation normalises. We cannot give a timeline of when we shall resume normal operations because it will depend on the rains,” he said.

High tides push ferries off course

Gowa said two ferries — the MV Nyayo and the MV Kilindini — were withdrawn as they were weak and could not stand the heavy currents.

High tides had earlier pushed them off course.

Services in the Mtongwe Channel were also suspended and the MV Likoni was brought in to operate in the Likoni Channel.

This left three operational ferries to serve 30,000 commuters and at least 6,000 vehicles.

Commuters on the MV Nyayo were forced to stay on the ferry for more than an hour as it struggled to dock, but it was towed away.

KFS had to call for assistance from the Kenya Ports Authority, who came in with a tugboat and towed the ferry to the ramp.

Heavy cargo trailers and buses travelling to Tanzania were left with no choice but to wait until operations went back to normal.

Tourist vans were also not spared.

KFS said the crisis had not been anticipated.

Businesses lost millions of shillings due to the delay and more will be lost if operations continue to be disrupted.

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