Likoni ferry crossing to cost more


Proposals by the management of the Kenya Ferry Services, operating the ferries between the Mombasa island and the southern mainland at Likoni, to raise their charges by 20 percent come January 01st and a further 10 percent by midyear 2013 have met with stiff resistance by a broad section of ferry users.

Embattled KFS CEO Musa Hassan, attempting to explain the company’s reasons for the tariff rises, found himself in a tight spot when he met with ferry users on Tuesday, where representatives of trade associations, top managers of Mombasa’s leading companies and other ‘victims of KFS’ faced off with him. The meeting, intended to solicit the views of ferry users, was swiftly turned into a free for all platform to criticize the ferry operations which in recent months had suffered from staff go slow to fully fledged strikes to a series of suspicious breakdowns and outages, which as reported here repeatedly stranded tens of thousands of commuters and hundreds of cars each time.

Only last week did President Kibaki acknowledge these problems while in Mombasa to inaugurate a power plant extension, when he directed the technocrats in government to fast track plans to either build a bridge or a tunnel to link the island of Mombasa with the mainland.

The ferry operations are simply mismanaged. It starts from the approach to the ramps which is often chaotic. There are issues with security when tourists have to leave the busses and pickpockets are common. Cars jump queues conniving with staff who take bribes. And when there are problems they deny instead of keeping the public informed. We cannot wait for the new highway from the airport to the south coast and if a bridge or tunnel could be added it would make life even easier’ said a regular contributor from the coast’s tourism fraternity before adding ‘increases of such magnitude, considering our vehicles often cross several times a day for airport transfers and excursions, will only result in raising our own prices because that cannot be absorbed. I don’t even want to think of how much this will affect tourism and trade at the coast’.

The upcoming holiday season expects a major inflow of visitors from upcountry, who spend the main holiday season of the year at the coast, and traffic between the south coast and the island is expected to remain high as coast residents take advantage of the prolonged off work periods to visit relatives and friends. No information could be received if the ferry company will indeed implement the tariff increases come January 01st or if public sentiments will prevail and current tariffs be maintained for some more time.

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