A section of traders in Homa Bay County have incurred huge losses following the suspension of ferry services in Lake Victoria by The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).
The two ferries owned by Mbita Ferries Services Ltd, that is MV Mbita 1 that connects Kisumu to Mfangano and the surrounding Islands and MV Mbita Ⅱ connecting Mbita in Homa Bay to Lwanda Kotieno trading center in Siaya have not been in operation since 21st December last year.
This is after KMA issued the company with a letter to cease operation following irregularities in connection with compliance with their regulations.
In the letter, KMA Director of Maritime safety, Jeremiah Ojowi told the company that the two vessels will not be allowed to operate until the irregularities were addressed.
On his part, the company manager Shadrack Kipchumba argued that some of the issues raised by KMA were very minor and should not warrant such drastic measures.
“We are appealing to KMA to allow us to continue operations as the issues pointed out were very minor and can be rectified as the vessels continue operation,” said Kipchumba.
He added that the company was levying minimal amounts of up to Sh150 only to allow the residents to cross from county to county and this is not sufficient to manage both the vessel and the employees.
The residents who have been dependent on the ferries to conduct their businesses have now been forced to seek alternative means, which are relatively expensive especially with the reopening of schools.
One of the residents, Florence Samo explained that the suspension had dealt a serious blowback on her fish business which relied on the ferries.
Samo expressed her hope of seeing the vessels resume operation as schools reopen to help reduce congestion and travel costs that may be hiked due to the high demand caused by students traveling back to their various schools.