Fear grips Lamu sailors over missing deadly pontoon

A Boat at the deadly Mkanda channel in Lamu county.The search for a fishing dhow that went missing in Mambrui area of Malindi entered its third day on Wednesday PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu, KENYA:Fear has gripped sailors operating in Lamu East Subcounty in Lamu.

This is after the Kenya Maritime Authority-KMA Lamu office issued a warning on a possible collision with a pontoon which detached from its piles at the Mtangawanda jetty and is floating around the ocean posing a direct danger to navigation in the region.

 The exact location of the pontoon remains unknown.

In a statement issued to journalists, sailors and all other sea users, vessels operating in islands located in Lamu East and those plying Amu,Mtangawanda and the Lapsset area in Kililana are especially at a higher danger of coming into contact with the pontoon.

A pontoon is a floatable heavy metal device connected to jetties and used as a landing site for boarding and alighting from boats and other sea vessels.

The statement insists that the immensely heavy metal is likely to cause untold damage if it comes in direct contact with boats and other sea vessels.

“Kenya Maritime Authority would like to bring to the attention of all vessels operating between Amu and the Lamu East Islands and all other vessels operating between Mtangawanda and the Lamu port area that a pontoon detached from its piles is floating with the currents posing a danger to the safety of navigation in the said area. You are hereby notified of the danger and requested to keep a keen watch and be on the lookout for the pontoon to avoid possible injury, fatalities and or damage/ loss of vessels,” read part of the KMA statement.

Speaking in Lamu town on Monday,Lamu County KMA Vessel Inspector Alexander Munga asked sea users to take the announcement seriously adding that the warning remains in force until the missing pontoon is located.

“We do hope this warning will be treated with all the seriousness required so as to avert any fatalities or accidents.We are talking about a massive metal that can topple any vessel. We want everyone to be on the lookout and alert us if they see anything.As an office we have officers scouring the sea all through to find it,”said Munga.

The Mtangawanda jetty pontoon has been in a wanting state for years and efforts by local leaders to get it attended to have not borne fruit.

Jetties are an integral part of Lamu town’s transport system since they are the only entry and exit points for cargo and people from marine vehicles.

The Jetties are basically useless without the pontoons as they can’t function without.

Majority of jetties in Lamu are in extremely bad shape and in dire need of renovation or reconstruction altogether.

The jetties included the Mokowe Customs Jetty, the Lamu Terminal Jetty, the Manda Airport Jetty and the Mtangawanda Jetty.

In July this year, the government announced to have set aside Sh 130 million for the general renovation of four key jetties in Lamu.

Structural Engineer in the State Department of Public Works, Hillary Nyaanga said the renovation of the Mtangawanda Jetty would involve rehabilitation of one of the rollers which lift the pontoon up and down during low and high tides.