Senators have raised the alarm about the state of the five vessels operated by the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), terming them potential deathtraps.
According to a report tabled in the Senate, 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, that requires all vessels to dry-dock after 8,500 hours of operations.
Further, the report accuses KFS of operating three decommissioned ferries, including MV Harambee, MV Nyayo and MV Kilindini.
The three vessels are some of Kenya’s oldest ferries, having been bought as used vessels in 1990.
The report tabled by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior on Wednesday condemns the five vessels, saying they pose danger to the more than 300,000 passengers and over 6,000 motorists plying the Likoni channel every day.
“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 rising at less than 45 degrees,” he said on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
“Had the ramp of MV Harambee been functioning properly, the untimely death of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu on 29th September 29, 2019, could have been avoided.”
Mariam Kighenda, 35, and her daughter Amanda, 4, died when their vehicle slid from MV Harambee into the Indian Ocean as the ferry was crossing the channel.
Investigations are underway and several employees of KFS who were in charge of the vessel on the day the tragedy happened have already been interrogated.
“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 concludes.
According to the Makueni senator, MV Harambee was refurbished in what is commonly referred to in maritime terms as a dry dock at a cost of Kshs157million in the Financial Year 2016/ 2017.
“I strongly suspect that the said amount of Kshs157million was misappropriated. This matter requires urgent investigations,” he said.
The senator also called for a probe into the management of African Marine Limited which KFS has single-sourced for the servicing of its vessels.