THE government will spend Sh600 million to buy two new ferries for the Kenya Ferry Services.
Transport Secretary Michael Kamau said the vessels will ensure resumption of services at the Mtongwe channel resume.
"The contract is expected to be awarded in three months time after the bids are out by September 4. It will however take between one and one and a half years to build the ferries," he said.
This means, Mtongwe residents will have to wait longer for ferry services to resume at the channel.
Kamau said the two old Kenya Ferry Services vessels - MV Mvita and Mv Pwani, which alternated services, were decommissioned by the government last year.
The two vessels bought in 1969 and 1974 respectively, are currently grounded at the KFS headquarters in Likoni after being declared unseaworthy.
Servicers at the channel were withdrawn in 2012 to allow renovation of the old ramps, which had been declared unfit for use.
Speaking at the KFS headquarters during a tour, Kamau said the ramps both on the mainland and island, have been renovated at a cost of Sh326 million.
He said the government could not get insurance for the old ferries to continue with operations.
"Last year we advised for the decommissioning of the two old ferries. We do not have a ferry to operate," Kamau said during a press briefing.
This leaves KFS with five vessels in operations which include Mv Nyayo, Mv Kilindini, Mv Harambee and the recently purchased Mv Likoni and Kwale will serve the busy Likoni main channel.
Mtongwe channel used to serve at least 12,000 people daily and its closure increased pressure at the Likoni channel where at least 300,000 people and 5,000 vehicles cross every day.
He said the national government has also given a green light to the Mombasa and Kilifi county governments, to proceed with their planned water transport system.