Disaster beckons at Likoni channel

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As our politicians settle down this week to craft a 2012 power deal in Naivasha under the guise of enacting a new Constitution, more pressing matters continue to be disregarded.

For several weeks now, users of the ferry on the Likoni channel have been subjected to grave danger and incessant delays due to vessels that break down midstream. 

Stories are told of how the ferries start drifting to the open seas before panic-stricken passengers are towed back to safety at the last minute. This is purely a disaster in the making!

It is regrettable that we have not learnt from the 1994 Mtongwe ferry tragedy.  Why is the government gambling with lives of thousands of Kenyans and tourists who use the Likoni ferries on a daily basis?

The Likoni channel is the gateway to Kenya’s South Coast, famed for its unadulterated white sandy beaches.   So, apart from the lives being put at risk, the country’s tourism sector is also sitting on a time bomb.

And do you know what the irony is?  Our Minister for Transport, the honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere comes from Matuga.  So, we assume he uses the ferry when he visits his constituencies.  Or does he?  There’s an airstrip in Ukunda so maybe he prefers to use this and remains impervious to the anguish of ferry users.

For decades, studies have been conducted about ‘fixing’ the problems at the Likoni ferry crossing.  Among solutions that have been floated is the construction of a Draw Bridge, a tunnel or a by-pass through the mainland on the Kwale side.

All these reports continue to gather dust on some shelves somewhere in the sweltering coastal town.

Let me suggest the following;

Before someone comes up with the outlandish idea of setting up an account to collect funds to assist our brothers and sisters who’ve been battered by the cold snap sweeping across Europe, let us raise money to help our government acquire new ferries.  Charity after all does begin at home doesn’t it?

I want to propose to Mwalimu Masoud Mwahima  (has he made his maiden speech in Parliament yet?) to spearhead this initiative…  ukifanya hivyo mheshimiwa, utahakikisha kwamba watu wa Likoni wamekupigia kura kwa landslide mwaka wa 2012.  Ushafahamu?

The government continues to incur hefty costs in fixing the run-down ferries instead of investing in a long-term solution.  Are we waiting for people to die at the channel so that we can form a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the cause and put forward solutions that we already know?

We all know urgent action is needed at the Likoni ferry crossing.  If Chirau Mwakwere can’t do it and won’t do it, can Mr Fix It on the 14th floor at the Treasury Building step in please?

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