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Safety measures to be enhanced at Likoni crossing channel

Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) will step up its security checks and measures to ensure the safety of commuters and motorists in the wake of the Likoni ferry disaster.
On September 29, 2019, a vehicle plunged into the Indian Ocean at the busy Likoni ferry crossing channel and was finally pulled out on Friday October 11, 2019, during a delicate recovery mission.
Occupants of the ill-fated family car Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu died in the Likoni ferry tragedy.
KFS Managing Director Bakari Gowa said they will implement enhanced safety measures focusing on passengers and motorists traveling by ferry across the busy channel that connects Mombasa Island to the mainland south.
Gowa accompanied by KFS chairman Dan Mwazo and government spokesman Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said they will ensure lifesaving appliances on board are in good working condition and urged the ferry users to play their part in preventing incidents at sea.
He said, as part of usual procedures, ferry crew will ensure that passengers do not embark and disembark from the marine vessels at the same time with vehicles.
“Adherence to safety procedures, implementation of new technologies and training of ferry crew will be a top priority for us,” said Gowa.
Addressing the press at the Mbaraki wharf near the site of the tragedy Saturday, Gowa said KFS will mount public awareness campaigns to sensitize its customers on the need to adhere to the rules of the carriage.
He said sensitization of the staff and the public through loud speakers, posters, notices, and training and physical enforcement of safety rules is a standard practice at the ferry loading ramps.
Currently six ferries MV Harambee, MV Nyayo, MV Kilindini, MV Likoni, MV Kwale and MV Jambo are operating at the ferry crossing point that links Mombasa Island to the mainland south.
“All the ferries are equipped with ample safety appliances for use in the event of emergencies and as such are regularly subjected to examinations for efficacy,” he said.
He said KFS will ensure its staff were well trained in first aid, lifesaving, firefighting and “man overboard” to ensure they remain alive to the rigorous sea safety requirements.
‘Man overboard’ is an exclamation given aboard a vessel to indicate that a member of the crew or a passenger has fallen off of the ship into the water and is in need of immediate rescue.
KFS board chairman Dan Mwazo said the tragedy will serve as a reminder to all the stakeholders about the importance of safety at sea particularly on board passenger ferries.
On his part, Oguna urged the media to report responsibly during disasters such as the Likoni one and avoid peddling wrong information.
Oguna said the media must always strive to verify facts before reporting on issues saying the Kenya Navy that led the multi-agency team involved in the 13 days recovery operation was unfairly maligned.
“It’s not fair to apportion blame and criticize our servicemen and the multi-agency team without considering the challenging situations such as poor visibility and strong currents at sea” said the government spokesman during the media briefing on saturday.
He said it was regrettable that following the ferry tragedy a section of the media dwelt on sideshows and interviewing people acting as ‘maritime experts’ who were obsessed with apportioning blame.
Oguna said the ferry services do not have a dedicated diving unit due to cost implications and that it relies on professional divers from the Kenya Navy and the Kenya Ports Authority in times of disasters.
He said the Kenya Navy had successfully undertaken recovery missions in terrible tragedies locally and in Tanzania and Ivory Coast and do not deserve the flak they have been receiving over the Likoni tragedy.
By Hussein Abdullahi

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