All ferry users to cover their mouths, noses before entry

Anyone with flu-like symptoms to be barred from vessels.

In Summary

• KFS ordered to restrict the number of people boarding the ferries per trip. 

• Matatus, tuk tuks, boda bodas and hawkers ordered out of parking stations around the channel to create room for crowd management. 

Commuters disembark from MV Likoni on Tuesday evening.
CROWDED VESSELS: Commuters disembark from MV Likoni on Tuesday evening.

Ferry users will be required to cover their mouths and noses while crossing the channel. 

Kenya Ferry Services managing director Bakari Goa and Mombasa county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo on Tuesday said this will be enforced strictly starting Wednesday to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

No one will be allowed into the ferry without their mouths and noses covered.

"You can use face masks, handkerchiefs, hijabs, lessos or any other clean item to cover the mouth and nose,” Goa said. 

The two spoke at the crossing channel after a meeting with stakeholders and the county security team. This came a day after the Mombasa County Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19 directed that anyone with flu-like signs and symptoms is barred from boarding the ferry. 

In a statement on Monday, Governor Hassan Joho and Kitiyo — the co-chairs of the committee — said such people should instead seek health services from the nearest facilities.

The two also ordered all matatus, tuk-tuks, bodabodas and hawkers out of the parking stations around the ferry to create room for crowd management. However, the main headache will be social distancing, which Goa said must be observed but might prove to be a challenge.

The KFS official said this will also be observed but will require self-discipline. 

“We have enough ferries. Do not board the ferry if you see the number of users already on board will not allow you to keep that 1.5-metre distance." 

According to a source who attended the meeting, this is one of three major ideas that were discussed at length.  The other two are limiting the number of users per trip and the most difficult of all, grounding of services.

On Tuesday, Kitiyo said, “Should the situation warrant grounding of services, it may come to that. But we are not there yet." 

On Monday, Coast regional coordinator John Elungata toured the crossing channel and described it as a “possible flash-point of the pandemic”.

Elungata said there is a need to step up safety measures at the channel in the wake of coronavirus cases.

Earlier, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said there are confirmed cases in Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties.

Kwale and Mombasa counties are linked by the Likoni crossing channel, which facilitates approximately 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles across every day.

Kagwe then directed the KFS to restrict the number of people boarding the ferries per trip. 

“The ferries are usually packed to capacity and avoiding close contact becomes near-impossible,” he said.

He urged ferry users to embrace social distancing while on the ferries. 

Goa urged Kenyans to stay at home if there is no pressing matter that requires them to cross the channel. 

Edited by R.Wamochie