Kenya: South African Divers to Join Search for Likoni Ferry Tragedy Victims - CS Macharia

5 October 2019

Nairobi — South African divers are set to join the search for a mother and her 4-year-old daughter - the occupants of a station wagon that sunk into the ocean after it slid off a ferry last Sunday - Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia announced on Saturday.

Efforts to retrieve the bodies of 35-year-old Mariam Kigenda and her 4-year-old daughter Amanda Mutheu started Monday, a day after the tragedy but authorities have cited heavy undercurrents, bad weather and poor underwater visibility as key impediments.

Port authorities have also been unable to completely cordon off the Likoni ferry channel which cuts across the busy Kilindi Habour with a busy vessel traffic accounting for an estimated 22 million annual cargo tonnage.

Speaking at the Likoni ferry flanked by Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett, CS Macharia said divers from South Africa will join efforts being coordinated by the Navy.

"We're her to tell Kenyans that all that needs to be done has been done and is being done right now. We're collaborating with all partners; you saw an expert from Sweden, we have other experts from South Africa coming in the next few days and the Kenyan navy as well," he told reporters in his first public appearance since the tragedy.

Macharia also said the government had inked a deal with Japan that will see the construction of a cable-stayed bridge which will resolve the commuter crisis at the Likoni crossing channel.

"We're going to do a cable-stayed bridge. Last week the Kenyan government signed an agreement with Japan following talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minster Shinzō Abe at the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VII)," the CS pointed out.

A cable car facility will also be put up with a capacity to ferry 320,000 passengers daily.

Macharia said the cable car development will be undertaken in partnership with an Austrian private firm.

An additional ferry will be procured in January 2020 as a stopgap measure, he said adding three more ferries will be acquired over a period of four years.

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