Concerns have surfaced regarding the safety of the Likoni ferries, a crucial transport link between Mombasa Island and the South Coast, following a damning report by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu. The report raises red flags about the seaworthiness of the vessels, highlighting potential risks to passengers and jeopardizing the Sh3.7 billion invested in their acquisition.
The audit, presented before Parliament, revealed that three of the seven ferries operating on the Likoni channel are over 30 years old, raising concerns about their structural integrity and compliance with safety regulations. Additionally, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), responsible for ferry operations, failed to provide evidence of the vessels’ seaworthiness, further fueling anxieties about their ability to withstand the demands of maritime operations.
“The users of the ferries are exposed to risk of loss of life or accident without compensation,” the report stated, painting a grim picture of potential consequences should safety concerns remain unaddressed.
Auditor-General Gathungu’s remarks resonated with commuters who rely on the ferry service daily. Many expressed anxiety about the reported lack of safety measures and urged the authorities to prioritize their well-being.
“These ferries are our only way to get across the channel,” shared Miriam Achieng, a resident of Kwale County. “If they’re not safe, then our lives are at risk every time we use them. We need answers and assurances from the government.”
The KPA, however, downplayed the severity of the concerns, emphasizing their commitment to passenger safety. They reiterated that the ferries undergo regular maintenance and inspections, ensuring their continued seaworthiness.
“We understand the concerns raised in the audit report,” stated KPA spokesperson Daniel Lagat. “However, we want to assure the public that the safety of our passengers is our top priority. We are compliant with all maritime regulations and have robust safety measures in place.”
Despite the KPA’s reassurances, questions linger about the adequacy of existing safety protocols and the transparency surrounding ferry maintenance. Critics argue that a more thorough investigation is warranted, urging the government to prioritize a comprehensive assessment of the vessels’ condition and implement necessary upgrades to guarantee passenger safety.
The Likoni ferry saga serves as a stark reminder of the importance of prioritizing safety in public transportation infrastructure. While economic considerations are crucial, they should never overshadow the fundamental right of passengers to travel without fear of harm. As the debate unfolds, stakeholders must work collaboratively to address the identified shortcomings, ensuring that the Sh3.7 billion investment in the ferries translates to safe and reliable journeys for all who rely on this vital service.
Only through transparent communication, proactive maintenance, and unwavering commitment to safety can the authorities quell public anxieties and restore confidence in the Likoni ferry system, ensuring the well-being of countless passengers who entrust their lives to these vessels every day.