• Since matatus are allowed to carry eight people, this reduces number of people on one ferrye trip to 480.
• Timing contradictory after KFS said pedestrians could only be allowed on vessels if they've covered their mouth and nose.
How many pedestrians can a Likoni Channel ferry carry in this age of coronavirus?
Given the difficulties in maintaining social distance aboard ferries, Transport CS James Macharia has ordered pedestrians barred from the vessels, except when they're in PSVs.
The order is in effect for 30 days.
In a letter to Kenya Ferry Service MD Bakari Goa on Tuesday, Macharia directed PSVs be allowed on the vessels n condition they adhere to the directive to reduce passenger numbers.
One ferry can carry 1,500 pedestrians and 60 cars.
If Macharia’s directive is implemented, it means per trip, only 480 people will be ferried across the channel, assuming only PSVs are allowed into the ferry.
However, the timing of the letter has caused confusion.
This is because on Tuesday evening – past 5pm – Goa and Mombasa county commissioners after a meeting with other stakeholders announced that pedestrians will be allowed to board the ferries provided they cover their mouths and noses.
“You can use face masks, handkerchiefs, hijabs, lessos or any other clean item to cover the mouth and nose,” he said Tuesday evening.
On Monday, Coast regional coordinator John Elungata toured the Likoni crossing channel to assess the possibility of achieving social distancing.
“The ferries are usually packed to capacity and avoiding close contact becomes nearly impossible and that is why we are cutting down the number of passengers per trip,” he said.
On average, 300,000 commuters cross the Likoni channel using the ferries every day.
Likewise, 6,000 vehicles also use the ferries to cross the channel.
Macharia’s directive means there will be significantly fewer people on the vessels given that matatus – which are the main mode of transport in Mombasa – are only allowed to carry a maximum of eight people.
On Wednesday, KFS corporate affairs manager Elizabeth Wachira told the Star on the phone that she had seen the letter "but cannot comment further".
“You have to call the MD. I have not received any word or instructions."
The MD did not answer calls.
Edited by R.Wamochie