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Safety measures to be enhanced at Likoni channel over covid-19

The Coast Regional Commissioner, John Elungata briefing the media when he inspected Ferry operations at the Likoni Channel in Mombasa on Monday March 23, 2020. Photo by Mohamed Hassan/KNA.

The  Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) has been directed to enforce safety and security measures at the busy Likoni crossing channel in Mombasa to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The  Coast Regional Commissioner (RC), John  Elungata underscored the need to step up safety measures at the vital channel in the wake of covid-19 and ‘limit the risk of infections.’

Elungata who toured the channel that connects Mombasa Island to the mainland south on Monday directed the KFS management to restrict the number of people boarding the ferries per trip to stem spread of the infectious disease.

The  RC asked the management of KFS to work closely with public health authorities on both sides of crossing channel to ensure safety of their passengers and the wider public by also increasing cleanliness on its vessels and inside its terminals.

KFS has installed hand-washing facilities at both sides of the channel as a preventative measure against the deadly coronavirus.

He urged the ferry users to play their part in preventing the spread of the virus and support the safeguards being taken in the wake of the global outbreak.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and have identified the ferry crossing as a possible flash-point of the pandemic and are prepared for possible cases of the virus,” he said.

He said more police officers would be deployed at the channel to help in the enforcement of the new safety measures such as crowd control.

“We ask for public support as this is not a permanent state but a temporary move to safe lives as coronavirus continues to spread around the world,” he said.

The RC said the restrictions are temporary measures designed to protect ferry passengers, motorists and crews.

“As cases of coronavirus continue to rise globally we have no option but to take strict measures to minimize the risk posed to the ferry users,” he said.

Elungata  said the restrictions on the flow of passengers to the ferries are in line with government guidance on ‘social distancing’ and in the best interest of the health of the population.

“The ferries are usually packed to capacity and avoiding close contact becomes near impossible and that is why we are cutting down the number of passengers per trip,” he said.

He urged ferry users to embrace maintaining distance from one another while on-board the vessels to prevent transmission of the highly contagious virus.

During  the tour, Elungata who was accompanied by Head of Regional Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit, Nelson Masengeli had to personally control the surging number of passengers to ensure ferries are not over crowded.

More than 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles cross the busy channel daily using MV Jambo, MV Kwale, MV Likoni, MV Kilindini and MV Nyayo.

On Sunday, Kenya confirmed one more coronavirus case raising the number of those altready infected to sixteen.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, dry cough and difficulty in breathing and some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

By  Mohamed Hassan

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