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September 22, 2018

Dead end for Mtongwe victims as court dismisses claims cases

Mtongwe residents disembark from Mv. Likoni at Mtongwe crossing channel in Mombasa as operations at the channel resumed on january 11,2017PHOTO / JOHN CHESOLI
Mtongwe residents disembark from Mv. Likoni at Mtongwe crossing channel in Mombasa as operations at the channel resumed on january 11,2017PHOTO / JOHN CHESOLI

Families of victims of the Mtongwe ferry tragedy will not be compensated, despite a 24-year wait.

This is after Justice George Odunga dismissed their cases.

In May, 1994, a vessel ferrying people across the Indian Ocean sunk killing 272 people.

For 29 families who had filed a case at a Mombasa court seeking compensation, they have to endure for losing their relatives and the cases.

Odunga dismissed the cases after the plaintiffs failed to appear, even after the court issued a notice to appear.

The families had sued the Kenya Ferry Services alongside Mwinyi Ramadhan Mwakinyezi, who was the coxswain of the ill-fated ferry, for causing the deaths of their loved ones.

The cases were filed in 1994 but the complainants have failed to appear in court since the start of the civil proceedings, thus the dismissal.

One of the dismissed cases was one filed by Stephen Juma, who lost his brother, Michael Juma, in the tragedy.

In court documents, Stephen said his brother’s death was caused by negligence by the Kenya Ferry Services.

He said KFS’s failure to ensure and maintain the carriage of proper passenger capacity was the biggest mistake, which resulted in the loss of lives.

Stephen also accused KFS of failure to provide an ocean worthy vessel and permitting usage of a written-off vessel.

The plaintiff further blamed KFS for failing to provide passengers with sufficient and adequate lifesaving equipment, which could have saved lives.

The company was also blamed for allowing the vessel to take off while overloaded in an excessive speed without due regard of the passengers’ safety.

The suit accused Ramadhan, the second defendant, for entertaining a woman at the coxswain’s cabin.

He was was also blamed for failing to control, manage or prevent the ferry from capsizing.

However, in its reply to the suit, Kenya Ferry Services said the deceased contributed to the negligence that caused his death.

They said the Michael boarded the ferry, despite knowing it was overloaded without ascertaining his safety and well aware it was dangerous.

The company further said the deceased failed to adhere to the coxswain’s instruction to disembark, and did not use lifesaving equipment, which were placed on board the ferry.

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