Saturday, when many Mombasa residents and visitors from upcountry destined for the Kenya South Coast, were trying to cross the Likoni channel in order to reach their destination, saw once again ferry breakdowns impacting greatly on people’s travel plans.
Instead of the usual four ferry operation during the day did queues on both sides of the channel grow longer and longer after two of the ferries had to undergo emergency repairs after suffering technical breakdowns.
The result was that instead of crossing in the space of an hour many vehicles were stranded from mid morning, some of them until evening before they were able to cross, in the absence of any other means to reach the other side. Traffic backlog into the city of Mombasa was described as massive and one of the worst in recent times, probably due to the large number of travelers wanting to get out of Mombasa for the long weekend.
While a major bypass is planned to link the Nairobi to Mombasa Highway, and the international airport in Mombasa, to the South Coast, will completion take another few years. This leaves commuters, traders and tourists at the mercy of the ferry company, which has been struggling with aged equipment and delays in procuring additional ferries.
The situation was reportedly made worse when soon after nightfall unruly ferry users swamped the guards on duty and entered one of the ferries which was set aside for vehicles, adding yet more trouble.
Work is in the meantime progressing on adding lanes on the main highway out of Mombasa’s Changamwe area to the Nairobi highway, also prone to long traffic jams and a source of constant frustration for in particular tourism operators, when their safaris to Tsavo East, the Taita Hills and Tsavo West are late in reaching their destinations in time due to such circumstances.