The perennial problems besieging ferry users at Mombasa’s main crossing point from the island to the South Coast at Likoni emerged once again when three of the four ferries broke down yesterday Thursday) at the onset of the morning rush hour.
All the ferries are aged and a new fleet is only expected either late 2008 or early 2009. The ferry crossing has in the past often caused tension amongst commuters and even this time police and security organs had to be called in to control the angry and rowdy crowds. While many day commuters came hours late to work or missed other chores unconfirmed reports also spoke of tourists missing their flights when stuck on the wrong side of the channel, which is the opening to Mombasa’s Indian Ocean deep see port. Tourism operators and infrastructure planners have for long floated the option to construct a by-pass which would take traffic from upcountry and tourists arriving at the international airport in Mombasa directly to the South Coast without having to drive through the city and using the unreliable ferry.
However, not one government since independence has come around to tackle this challenge which left even this correspondent shaking his head in despair many times during his long years at the Kenyan coast. The Kenya Ferry Services CEO blamed the breakdown partly on the lack of spares but more intriguingly on ‘lack of iron to carry out repairs’ – Oooops.