COAST TOUR OPERATORS DEMAND FERRY VIP SERVICES ON PAY AS YOU GO BASIS
The recent introduction of VIP services for tourist vehicles, to obtain priority boarding for vehicles for instance on transfers from or to the airport or on a tight schedule leaving for safaris, has been widely hailed as progress and a step long overdue by sections of coasts tourism stakeholders.
However, the demand by the ferry operators for a three month upfront payment of Kenya Shillings 166.000 or about 2.000 US Dollars is now seen as an obstacle to in particular smaller tour companies, which would prefer a pay as you use fee to be paid on the spot rather than having to fork out major money upfront. A fee of 1.200 Kenya Shillings or about 15 US Dollars per trip has been proposed by tour operators representatives but was rejected by Kenya Ferry Services, prompting an appeal to government to compel the ferry operators to review their stand and make the fast track option more user friendly. The Kenya Ferry Services CEO claimed to have been surprised by the request for fees per use as in his words, quoted in local Kenyan media, the company had only recently reduced the prepayment requirements from 6 months to 3 months and no further reduction would or could be considered for VIP treatment in a point blank pay or get lost attitude common for parastatal monopolists. This prompted safari operators to protest even more, saying that they have no issue with paying for extra services but only questioned the need to prepay several months in advance, when an on the spot payment could just as well meet the financial requirements of preferential service levels. In fact, added comments attributed to the ferry CEO that normal services would suffice just as well as all ferry users were served without delay caused a string of comments from safari operators and other ferry users, most of them unfit for reproduction.
The ferry service has in the past attracted severe criticism over docking accidents and stalled ferries mid stream, when crossing from the island of Mombasa to the southern coast and planning for a highway bypass from the international airport is at an advanced stage, bringing relief in the future to in particular the tourism sector, which can then avoid the bottle neck of the Likoni ferry and leave the service to local commuters or else use it only for the sightseeing purposes. Until that bypass however is ready, anyone who needs to go south of Mombasa will continue to depend on the ferry service and is subject to their terms and conditions, but also their failures as and when those happen.