Thousands of commuters at the Likoni ferry crossing channel can now breathe a sigh of relief after a new ferry, MV Safari arrived in the country from Turkey where it was assembled by builder Ozata shipyard company.
Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) management has reported that the ferry is a big boost to the channel which is already struggling with traffic flow orchestrated by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.
KFS managing director, Bakari Gowa, said with the traffic challenges brought about by the coronavirus, the ferry is able to carry 1,000 persons in line with new precautionary measures put by the government to control the spread of Covid-19.
“In the new war of Covid 19-this ferry has a capacity to carry 1,000 people, that is in line with the social distancing measures put by government and this is a big boost to us as it will ease travel across the busy channel,” said Gowa.
The carrying capacity of existing ferries was also reduced after the management enforced social distancing on the vessels to curb the spread of the contagious disease.
Currently, ferries that are operational are MV Kilindini, MV Jambo, MV Kwale and MV Likoni. MV Harambee and MV Nyayo are currently under repairs at the dry dockyard.
The ferry has a capacity of 1,359 people, including 12 people with disabilities and 64 vehicles at a go. The ferry arrived after 27 days of cruise in the sea. This is a sister ferry to MV Jambo which arrived in July 2017.
The ferry is now under mechanical checkup and inspection at the ferry dockyard awaiting to begin operations. The Ferry was constructed at a cost of Ksh1.2 billion.
The vessel docked in Mombasa on Saturday, April 25, and is expected to start serving residents from the first week of May 2020.
Gowa said the arrival of the ferry was timely, adding that it would go a long way in boosting the region’s efforts to fight fast-spreading coronavirus.
“We shall give it enough time to ensure its fumigated and sanitized and certified fit for us. We give it two weeks and it will be ready to operate,” said Gowa. The arrival brings to five the number of ferries that operate at the channel.
Boniface Mwangi, a daily commuter across the channel, expressed his joy saying the perennial gridlock will now be a thing of the past.
“At least we are assured that we will not overcrowd at the ferry when crossing. At least it will cushion us from the disease by ensuring social distancing is adhered to,” said Mwangi.
Mtongwe Ferry channel, however, according to Gowa is under repairs and is set to begin operations once construction work of the ramps is complete.
On a daily basis, the residents are compelled to crowd at the channel and cross over using the limited number of ferries to avoid breaching the curfew order.
At least 300,000 people cross the ferry daily while about 6,000 vehicles are transported across the channel.