Commuters stranded as Likoni ferries break down
Likoni ferry channel was on Friday hit by a crisis after three of its four vessels broke down. Their withdrawal caused massive congestion and delays at the busy crossing as desperate commuters disregarded laid down procedures to scramble for the lone ferry.
Kenya Ferry Service management released MV Likoni and MV Harambee whose prows were faulty to calm the unruly commuters who had broken the control gates.
As they poured on to the mainland ramp, one commuter was seriously injured in the scramble to board MV Kilindini and was taken to a nearby clinic for first aid.
The commotion during the morning rush hour caused massive traffic snarl-ups on both sides of the crossing stretching for over a kilometre as stranded motorists waited for commuters to be cleared from the ramp.
Security guards had a hard time controlling the impatient passengers struggling to cross the channel.
After two hours of only transporting passengers and emergency motorists, human traffic congestion was eased from the mainland side but the breakdown of MV Nyayo complicated the transportation of vehicles.
An administration police officer who witnessed the melee warned of a looming disaster if the ferry management did not improve its services.
“We just arrived in the nick of time to save school children trapped within the rowdy crowd that had blocked the ramp to wait for landing ferries without caring about women or children,” the officer said.
Some tourists traveling to the airport missed their flights due to the delay. By 10am four ferries were operating but two – MV Likoni and MV Harambee – were only ferrying people leaving MV Kilindini to transport vehicles across the channel.
MV Nyayo was recalled from the jetty where it its engine was being changed only to run for a short while before developing mechanical problems.