WORKERS DOWN TOOLS TO CRIPPLE FERRY OPERATIONS
In breaking news it was learned yesterday morning that the ferries at the Likoni Channel, linking the island of Mombasa with the South Coast, had been grounded by striking workers, as the union and management had apparently failed to reach an agreement over wage increases and other benefits following a slow go some weeks ago.
At that time had government officials directed the company’s management, seen by a number of observers contacted since as the main problem in the ongoing labour dispute, to once again engage in talks.
The failure of negotiations led to the sudden turn to the worse yesterday, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded on both sides of the channel and forcing tour operators to make detours over at times very poorly maintainted roads of as much as 80 kilometres, to reach the airport for flight departures or, for those tourists arriving, their resorts at the famous Diani beaches.
Both the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association and the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, Coast Branch, were closely involved with their colleagues from the Kenya Association of Tour Operators to monitor the situation and guide their members of how to cope with the difficult circumstances. Police was drafted in to secure the alternative route to avoid thugs from exploiting the slow speeds over the rough patches of roads, riddled with potholes. Industry leaders have also once again demanded that the new bypass highway, due to be constructed to connect the Nairobi – Mombasa road and the international airport to the South Coast, be given absolute priority now to create a short and secure transit link.
Estimates provided to this correspondent by a number of sources from Mombasa speak of millions of shillings lost in having to use the long detour, besides the inevitable dents into the reputation of the Kenya coast as a desirable tourist destination, where businesses are already struggling with lower than anticipated occupancies as a result of often outrageously false media reports on the security situation.
Watch this space for updates later in the day, as services are hoped to resume and the backlog of is being cleared.