Lamu boats to carry half capacity to tame virus spread

County commissioner directs a 30-plus-seater boat to carry 60% capacity

In Summary

• There are over 6,000 boats operating in various islands in the Lamu.

• Official says all jetties will be fumigated by end of week, they are the only entry or exit points of archipelago. 

The passenger limit for public service vehicles in Lamu has been extended to boats in efforts to combat Covid-19. 

The new directive was issued by county commissioner Irungu Macharia on Wednesday when he directed all boats to ferry half of the normal capacity. 

A speedboat with a capacity of nine passengers will now be expected to only carry five people while the larger boats with a capacity of about 90 passengers have been asked to carry 40 at a go. 

Boat operators have been asked to ensure all passengers observe the one-metre-apart sitting positions to lower the risk of exposure.

Last week, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe directed all 14-seater matatus to carry a maximum of eight passengers, 25-seater vehicles to carry only 15 people, while buses of 30 seats and above to observe a 60 per cent capacity. 

There are more than 6,000 boats operating on Lamu islands. Larger boats carrying more than 30 people are equally required to ferry 60 per cent of their capacity. 

Following the new directive, the government undertook a massive crackdown on the archipelago to ensure the law is enforced in the county where much of the transport is done via water in the Indian Ocean. 

The commissioner warned those flouting the directive — be it the boat operator or passenger — will be arrested and charged for endangering lives.

“The crackdown remains on until further notice. All boats are hereby required to adhere to the new passenger limits. All these is to ensure Lamu stays safe from coronavirus,” Macharia said.

Boat operators have also been asked to maintain high hygiene even as the government commences the fumigation of all jetties as part of the measures to contain the Covid-19 disease.

Jetties serve as the only entry and exit points in and out of the archipelago.

Major jetties being targeted for the fumigation exercise before the weekend include the Mokowe Customs, KPA, Mangrove Terminal, Manda Airport Jetty, Mtangawanda and Kizuke jetties.

Macharia said all boats and life jackets will also be fumigated. Security officers have also been deployed to disperse any crowding at the jetties, he added.

“The fumigation is already underway. We also don’t want people crowding at the jetties and if you do, police have orders to disperse you. Stay home." 

Edited by R.Wamochie