Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News
If you went to Malindi, you would be photographed with an Italian injecting heroin into you as he pats your bottom. In Kisumu, you would get photographed dodging tear gas and, in Eldoret, it is fashionable (I’m informed) to get a church in the background... preferably after the smoke has cleared.
What of Mombasa, my beautiful city? Shorts are de rigueur, a coconut shell in the hand an important accessory, and the ocean a must. You could also get your photo taken at Fort Jesus.
The fort is a reminder of a by-gone era when Kenya — or, more important, Mombasa — meant something to the world. But now Mombasa has deviated from making history on a global stage to curating it in museums.
However, the one thing that is truly outstanding about the coastal town is the ferry. All major modern travel vehicles are made for the military.
Cars are the preferred beast of burden for the infantry. Tanks have no civilian use unless, of course, you are in Mogadishu.
Commercial aeroplanes did not pick up ’til after World War II, and submarines have had little use. There was a time when naval power decided who ruled the day, but the battlefield is now, by and large, aerial. Ships are good, but planes are fly! But a ferry?
It is slow, cumbersome, rusty, hard to protect and open to attack from the sea, air, land, and underwater. That is a no-no for the military. It is a sitting duck, a paraplegic without his prosthetic legs, harder to disguise than an American accent ... and just as burdensome.
You get to the Likoni crossing, and you immediately feel caged in, driven on in a sloping cattle kraal by the sea of humanity that descends on you. There is a gate ahead and an alfresco antechamber sloping into the ocean waits a few metres away.
You feel like human cattle descending into a large dip. You get a sense of what the Jews felt when they were herded into controlled environments by Nazis as they waited for transportation to the labour camps.
If anyone needs proof that the government should get out of the transport business, they should try using the ferry as a pedestrian. It is slow, pitifully inadequate, sickness-inducing, terribly run, unreliable and, above all, dangerous.
You finally walk over the prow and into the ferry, your chariot across the channel. The ferry is double-ended because the channel is only 500 or so metres long. The heat is intense. You feel like you are in Lucifer’s underpants as he seats on the throne of hell after a particularly lavish serving of Indian curry.
The stench is unbelievable. You feel like you are in a sweatshop — one that actually sells sweat.
Waste disposal, when it comes to ferries, is atrocious. The water near the dock has a thin film of oil and, this being a major water way, it is only a matter of time before the local people start using the sea water as a more potent alternative to kerosene for their stoves.
In the ocean, rust is the chief source of corrosion and the metal underneath the ferry is well protected by a dense layer of rust. If this rust were to be removed, then the metal underneath would collapse.
So they let it fester like a cancer. Inoperable, but doing no damage to the host.
The journey is short enough to prevent you from getting sea sick, but long enough for you to rethink your life’s purpose. Cars out first, then carts, then the human cargo. You get to the freedom of terra firma and relief hits you.
The ferry is dreadful. Road is good, air is acceptable, ferry deplorable. Four wheels good, 2 wings bad and one ferry despicable. Full stop.
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland