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Coronavirus: New rules for Likoni ferry use after curfew chaos

WACHIRA MWANGIBy WACHIRA MWANGI
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Vehicles will only cross the Likoni channel between 11am and 3pm to allow the smooth flow of pedestrians, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has said.

The decision was reached during the governor’s meeting with Mombasa parliamentarians and Regional Coordinator John Elungata following a hiccup on Friday, which was day one of a countrywide curfew to curb spread of the coronavirus.

Governor Joho ordered that priority be given to pedestrians starting Saturday.

“We are asking both mwananchi and security personnel to remember we are in a health curfew and that we will only succeed if we observe the guidelines,” he said.

“Vehicles will be restricted … so that pedestrians have ample time to cross. They will cross from 6am to 11am and 3pm to 6pm so they are able to head home before the curfew.”

POLICE BRUTALITY

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While condemning police brutality against members of the public during the curfew, the county chief said there is no need to use teargas as the move concerns health.

He noted that in case one person sneezes due to the teargas, a large number of ferry users will be infected.

“Let us be careful. Wash your hands, observe the one metre distance and stay at home. It is for your own good. You are not doing this for me; you are doing it for your family and the ones you love.”

Members of the public walk to a ferry at the Members of the public walk to a ferry at the Likoni crossing on March 28, 2020, following the announcement of new rules for prioritising pedestrian crossing. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mr Joho urged residents to adhere to the Health ministry’s directives as the country fights the Covid-19 disease.

“We all witnessed what happened yesterday [during the curfew] and we all understand that we are in a dire situation. [These are] extraordinary times that require us all to put our minds together to achieve our goals,” Mr Joho said.

“I believe at some point we will call for a total shutdown. In more vulnerable areas this remains a point of discussion,” he said.

Regarding the fresh produce market, the governor said they decongested Kongowea market and opened satellite markets in Tononoka and Likoni.

He said they will waive charges to enable wholesalers transport their goods across the channel to Likoni residents.

“UNSEEN ENEMY”

Interior Chief Administrative Secretary Hussein Dado said he was impressed with the cooperation by leaders in the Coast region.

Mr Dado called on residents to adhere to the curfew directive and minimise movement.

“Stay at home. The whole world is on lockdown. The curfew is here to stay and you should not try the government. Whatever happened yesterday is regrettable but we must enforce the curfew,” he said.

Mr Elungata said the government is keen on enforcing social distancing, the ban on public gatherings and limiting unnecessary travel.

“We are in a war with an unseen enemy so we must implement the curfew. We all have one common enemy – reducing chances of the spread of the coronavirus – so we should all cooperate. If this will not be adhered to we will enforce a total lockdown of ferry services,” he warned.

He said the opening of a satellite market across the channel will reduce the numbers of pedestrians using the ferries.

The security team told employers to allow their employees to be out of work by 3pm to be able to go home and beat the curfew times.

A guide gestures at members of the public A guide gestures at members of the public waiting to board a ferry at the Likoni crossing on March 28, 2020, following the announcement of new rules for prioritising pedestrian crossing. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

CROWD CONTROL

Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki condemned use of excess force by police officers controlling crowds.

“The ferry is an essential service for the people of Mombasa. Since many use this channel, it is bound to have congestion. We ask for an understanding from the government. Beating people and teargassing them will beat the good work going on here,” Senator Faki said.

He called for formation of a ferry users’ committee to help manage the travellers.

“Most decisions made here are not subjected to public participation,” he noted.

He also asked employers to take steps such as allowing staff to work through the lunch hour so they are able to adhere to the curfew.

Members of the public wait to board a ferry at Members of the public wait to board a ferry at the Likoni crossing on March 28, 2020 following the announcement of new rules for prioritising pedestrian crossing. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

EMERGENCY FUNDS

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko said lawmakers agreed to ensure funds for assisting residents are available in case of a total lockdown.

Ms Mboko also asked police officers enforcing the curfew to be humane and not harass the people.

She further urged Kwale and Kilifi counties to coordinate their measures against the virus.

While noting that the times are hard for everyone, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said police are also under pressure.

He advised the public against loitering.