Only a week after the sinking of the MV Spice Islander ferry enroute between Tanzania- Zanzibar and Pemba, when over 200 lives were lost and others are still said to be missing, did the Likoni Ferry in Mombasa give passengers a similar scare yesterday. Coming from the mainland and about to dock on the Mombasa island ramp, it appears that the crew lost control of the vessel which then drifted back into the Likoni Channel, the main entrance from the Indian Ocean to the port of Mombasa, where it collided with another ship. It then drifted further away towards a dredger, used to deepen the entrance channel to the harbour but was eventually brought back under control without causing more damage.
Passengers exited the ferry on the double when it eventually was safely docked but MV Kwale was then withdrawn from service to assess the damage and interview the crew at the controls at the time the incident happened. The crossing of the Likoni Channel has for years been plagued with problems of ferry breakdowns and drifting incidents following engine failures, prompting constant calls in particular by the business and tourism sectors to hasten the construction of the bypass highway, which will eventually connect the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, and the Nairobi Mombasa highway directly to the South Coast. However, this project is still to take off inspite of advanced planning as reported here previously and this latest incident will only renew calls to get on with the new highway tendering process to select a contractor and then start building.