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The ‘deathtraps’ that many Kenyans risk their lives on daily across Likoni Channel


Five ferries operated by the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) are a potential deathtrap.

In a report presented to the senate last week on Wednesday, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo revealed, MV Kwale, MV Nyayo, MV Kilindini, MV Harambee and MV Likoni, all plying the Likoni channel, are dysfunctional and unseaworthy.

In particular, the report reveals that MV Harambee does not have functional ramps, which is a contravention of International Safety Management (ISM) regulations, which requires all vessels to dry-dock after 8,500 hours of operations.

The report also faulted the Kenya Ferry Services of operating decommissioned ferries including MV Harambee, MV Nyayo and MV Kilindini.

The three vessels are some of Kenya’s oldest ferries bought in the 1990s.

The senator added that the five vessels pose a danger to more than 300,000 passengers and over 6,000 motorists who use the Likoni Channel for travel daily.

“I have it on record that the ramps commonly referred to as prows are not functioning and in the case of MV Kilindini, the prows are raising at less than 45 degrees,” Kilonzo told senators on Wednesday, October 23.

The senator went ahead and argued that the deaths of Miriam Kiganda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu could have avoided.

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“Had the ramp of MV Harambee been functioning properly, the untimely death of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu on September 29,  2019, could have been avoided,” Senator Kilonzo.

The two died when their vehicle reversed and plunged into the Indian Ocean on board MV Harambee while crossing the Likoni Channel.

“I received information that this incident was as a result of the sorry state of our five ferries operating on the Likoni channel; that is MV Kwale, MV Nyayo, MV Kilindini, MV Harambee and MV Likoni,” the senator said.

Senator Kilonzo has also questioned the amount that was used to purchase the MV Harambee. The government spent Sh 157 million in the financial year 2016/2017 on a refurbished vessel.

“I strongly suspect that the said amount of Sh 157 million was misappropriated. This matter requires urgent investigations,” he said.

According to sources at the DCI employees KFS have been interrogated by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) in connection to the September 29 tragedy but the Senator also want the African Marine Limited to be probed after it emerged that KFS  single-sourced for the servicing of its vessels.