Governor Hassan Joho addressing the media flanked by the Coast regional coordinator John Elungata and interior and coordination of national government chief administrative secretary Hussein Dado on Saturday, March 28, 2020 Images by Mwakera Mwajefa
BY MWAKERA MWAJEFA
After the police brutality witnessed on Friday evening hours before the national curfew (March 27) started, Saturday epitomised ‘confusion’ between the multi-agencies security team and the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) operation teams manning the island and mainland ramps at Likoni channel.
Although it (Saturday)
experienced some semblance in terms of sanity compared to the previous day, the
multi-agencies’ second day, however, registered conspicuous lack of a central
command or duties delegation on dealing with the boarding or disembarking of
vehicular or human cargo from the ferries.
The supposed free
flow of services looked ‘cumbersome and time consuming’ with each ferry taking an
average of 20 minutes for boarding or disembarking that saw time and again the
KFS managing director Bakari Gowa being forced to intervene at the mainland
This writer witnessed
him darting here and there to issue directions to the ramp controllers and
guides to quicken the processes at the busy channel that normally handles about
6,000 vehicles and 300,000 on daily basis.
It seems the Friday takeover
by the multi-agencies security team had brought with it some ‘hiccups’ on how
to conduct business at both ends of the operation zones that are normally coordinated
by the operations manager, operations superintendent, coxswains, operations
supervisors, deckhands, ramp controller and assistant security officer.
In fact, the confusion
became evident when Mombasa County Governor Hassan Joho flanked by the Coast
regional coordinator John Elungata arrived with their big team in tow at the
island ramp to raise their concerns over the previous day’s events.
Their arrival and
occupation of one section of the ramp temporarily blocked the main motorists’
waiting bay before being allowed to board docked ferries.
Expressing concern over this blockage, a senior KFS operation manager approached his Kenya Coast Guard Service counterpart but the latter declined to allow the vehicles to board the waiting ferry until the Joho function was over.
The ensuing altercation
caused about 10 motorists to fail accessing mv
Kilindini that had docked to carry vehicular cargo forcing them to wait for
mv Likoni that was discharging at the
mainland side of the channel thus delaying them for 40 minutes.
For over an hour, the
Governor’s event caused an interference of operations before his team comprising
of Senator Mohamed Faki, MPs Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita)
and Asha H Mohamed (County MP) boarded mv
Jambo for the one metre ‘social distance’ demonstration by KCGS personnel.
Confronted over this
misunderstanding aboard the ferry, the KCGS director general Brigadier Vincent
Naisho Loonena said their duties was to ensure social distance was observed by
all ferry users.
“If something of the
sort happened, then it is very unfortunate because we are not here to interfere
with the KFS operations,” he said.
According to him they
were working in liaison with the ferry personnel to ensure meticulous and
well-coordinated service delivery with minimum confusion or delayed operations.
But contacted on the
same, Mr Elungata was categorical that the National Police Service (NPS) and
KCGS had taken charge of ferry operations and not KFS whose only duty was to
provide ferries at the channel.
extraordinary time of Covid 19 pandemic, the Kenyan police and Coast guards
have taken the running of this channel until otherwise advised to the contrary,”
he said adding that the KFS personnel would only be offering logistics support.
While issuing stringent measures in the fight against coronavirus in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Wednesday (March 25) that KCGS and NPS would take charge at the Likoni channel to contain the spread of the novel disease.
Due to this, Mr
Elungata in consultation with Governor Joho issued new ferry operation
schedules that would start from Sunday (March 29) in order to comply with the
Presidential directive on the prevention of Covid 19 in the country.
The revised KFS
operation schedules run from 5 am – 11 am ferries would be available only for
commuters while from 11 am – 2 pm the ferries would be available for cyclists
(boda boda/tuk tuk) and vehicles.
Again from 2 pm – 6.30
pm the ferries would only carry commuters to beat the curfew imposed by the
government from 7 pm – 5 am.
SECURITY AND SAFETY
For security and
safety purposes, some members of the KFS’ department of operations expressed fears
that leaving the KCGS and NPS to man operations without their input could be
catastrophic because of their vast experience.
“Take for example mv Jambo you must be in the know that it
cannot carry vehicles whose height exceeds 3.6 metre or else you damage the
ceiling of its upper deck,” said one of the ramp controllers.
The controller also
questioned the new ferry operation schedules saying they failed to consider the
sea tides that are not static but dynamic to help them know when to carry loaded
trailers or abnormal loads.
“Tides vary and they
will not always be between 11 am and 2 pm when the new schedules indicate the
duration to ferry vehicular cargo only,” the controller says adding the revised
operation timetable should be flexible to accommodate tidal time.
Again the controller
points out that the crossing channel is a busy traffic route for incoming and
outgoing ships that make their call at the Kenya Ports Authority facilities to
load or discharge bulk cargo and containers.
The ongoing dredging at
the port, according to the controller, is also a cause of delays at the
crossing channel due to the in-and-out of the dredging vessels carrying their discharge
to the deep sea off the Diani beachfront of Kwale County.
To make the new
operation schedules work, the controller urges KCGS and NPS to factor in all
the identified challenges so that services at the channel can be smooth and
seamless for all the users.