News is emerging from Mombasa that the new management of Kenya Ferry Services has finally acceded to constant demands by the coast tourism industry and granted priority access to the ferries crossing the Likoni channel, which separates the island of Mombasa and the south coast.
Regular delays caused by ferries developing mechanical problems and long queues have in the past cost tourists dearly when, coming from the south coast-based resorts, they reached the airport late and their flights had left without them.
The constant aggravation by long-suffering coast residents, especially the tourist resort operators, eventually led to the sacking of the company’s Managing Director and other senior management just days after President Uhuru Kenyatta, accompanied by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, visited the ferry company and took a ride across the channel.
Acting Managing Director Bakari Gowa swiftly realized on which side his bread was buttered, unlike his predecessor, Musa Hassan Musa, who had locked horns with all and sundry, and granted the tourism industry’s request without much ado and notably without added charges for being able to jump the queues.
Ferries now also start operations at 0500 hours in the morning, providing added relief to commuters and in particular tourists either heading to the airport or out on safari, as they will now be able to beat the rush-hour traffic, safely make it for their flights, or else be out of the city en route to Tsavo or Amboseli without the hitherto often long delays.
“Gowa is a man of his word. When he took over, he promised to give the tourism industry a break, and he has delivered. Musa was just full of himself and always arguing, always on the defensive. Now we can have a partnership with the KFS and few will argue when tourist buses jump the waiting lines. After all, Mombasa makes a living from tourism and we must facilitate operations, not create roadblocks,” said a regular coast-based source when passing the information. The new deal applies to all branded tourist buses and vans, hotel shuttle buses, and branded limousines. Added measures taken by the new management include the employment of more ticketing staff and the increase in deployment from two to three ferries during off-peak hours and the early start of the peak traffic deployment of four ferries from 1530 hours, half an hour earlier from the previous operating schedules.