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Mtongwe ferry set to resume after eight months


Mtongwe ferry set to resume after eight months

Wednesday June 01 2022

Ferry crossing the Mtongwe channel. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Mtongwe ferry channel that was closed down eight months ago over safety concerns is set to be re-opened for public use next week, Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani told a parliamentary committee.

Mr Yatani on Tuesday told the Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing that the facility would be handed over to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) this week with the public expected to start using it next week.

“The contractor has been working on minor defects identified during project inspection. The facility will be handed over to the authority by the end of the first of June. Members of the public will be able to use the channel from the second week of June,” he said.

Mr Yatani was responding to a question asked on the floor of the House by Likoni MP Mishi Mboko who sought to know when the channel would be opened to the public and the measures taken to address safety concerns.

The minister, through his representative Stanley Kamau, told the David Pkosing-led committee that the works are expected to be completed soon and the public should be in a position to use it in the second week of June.

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“The construction of the Mtongwe side is 90 percent done while designs for the islands side of the channel for the ramps are complete. The authority has budgetary provisions for island ramp projects in the next financial year 2022/23,” said Mr Yatani.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said the government had promised the residents that the channel would be opened in January only to delay until June.

“The people of Mtongwe have suffered as their business cannot take off now due to the delay. They were told it would be opened in January. We want to know as leaders from the coastal region, who was responsible for the delay?" he asked.

“I hope there will be no more delay and that from next week the public will as from next week use the channel normally and their businesses will be back to life.”

Mr Nassir, who is also the chairman of the Public Investments Committee, said the issue of the safety of ferries was an audit query in his committee and expressed hope that the ministry has addressed all the concerns.

Mr Kamau assured the lawmakers and the Mtongwe residents that the channel would be reopened next week.

He attributed the delay to contractual issues between the Kenya Ports Authority and the contractor, which have since been sorted out.

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“Yes there was a delay but now the government is giving commitment that it will be opened and this is going to be done as soon as next week,” Mr Kamau said.

Mr Pkosing told the ministry to urgently address the plight of the area residents who have had to bear extra costs in their normal duties while going to work.

Ferry services at Mtongwe channel were suspended on October 15, 2021, following safety concerns.

The structural integrity of the landing platforms had severely deteriorated with one support broken below the water line and a guiding pile slanted in off-position.

The repair works involved repairs of ferry landing platforms, pillars and the gangways on both sides of the channel.

The Island side pontoon was washed away by the Indian Ocean waves in an incident that sparked safety concerns among users and other stakeholders.

The pillars holding the pontoon were overwhelmed by the waves after heavy rains pounded the region.

The incident resulted in the suspension of services by KFS as it worked to restore the pontoon.

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