In an incident that smacks of utter negligence and inefficiency, a woman and her daughter drowned after their car slipped off a ferry and plunged into the Indian Ocean. And the spotlight is now on the management of the Kenya Ferry Services Limited. It’s the core responsibility of the management and workers of this parastatal to ensure the safety of commuters. Ferry staff’s cardinal duty is to help the people to safely cross the channel to work, trade, tour or return home. Motor vehicles and motorcycles also make a sizeable part of the cargo ferried daily.
The uproar over the incident is understandable. This company has, for years, been notorious for inefficiency and a poor vessel maintenance record. This explains the demand by the public that the top management and the technical team be seized and charged over this incident. It is, indeed, a crying shame to hear that the recovery of the bodies was delayed by lack of oxygen tanks. This is tantamount to criminal irresponsibility and endangering lives. Conspicuously missing were standby divers, speedboats and other rescue facilities.
Two years ago, three women died on the spot while another succumbed to her injuries in hospital after a truck mishap. Last July, a truck plunged into the ocean as its two occupants disembarked. Luckily, they escaped unhurt. In May 2016, a bus travelling from Tanzania to Mombasa Island dropped into the sea and, in December 2015, seven people were injured and six vehicles smashed after a lorry’s brakes failed.
But perhaps the worst accident was in 1994, when a ferry capsized, killing 272 of the 400 people on board. Its capacity was only 300. In June 2016, a man died after his vehicle slid off a ferry. Witnesses said it took 30 minutes for the car to sink.
This paints a grim picture of monumental ineptitude.
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