Search for missing pontoon intensified

A photo of the pontoon shortly before it detached./PHOTO/NATASHA NEEMA

Lamu, KENYA: The Kenya Maritime Authority Lamu office together with the Kenya Ports Authority, the Maritime Police and the Rural Border Patrol Unit have intensified the search for a pontoon that detached itself from the Mtangawanda jetty piles in Lamu East five days ago and got lost at sea.

The Lapsset corridor contractor has also issued a tugboat to help in the search.

A pontoon is a heavy floatable metal that’s normally connected to jetties and used as a landing site for loading and offloading passengers and cargo from boats and other sea vessels.

In a press statement issued on Tuesday, the KMA Director General George Macgoye said the pontoon was yet to be found.

He said a search is still on until its recovered.

Macgoye, however, issued a warning to all sea users including fishing and transport boats to exercise utmost caution and vigilance so as to avoid colliding their vessels with the pontoon.

He said the caution now applies to all sea users around the coastal strip since the pontoons exact location is unknown and that the probability of it having crossed out of the Lamu waters cant also be ignored.

“The Kenya Maritime Authority wishes to bring to the attention of the Lamu archipelago water transport services providers and users, the fishing community and the public in general, that the Mtangawanda Jetty pontoon which detached from its piles in the evening of Friday 10th August 2018 has not yet been located. The search is still on. We, therefore, request all to notify our offices of its location immediately when it is sighted. We further continue to urge all vessels operating in the area and along the coastal waters to be wary of the danger to safe navigation posed by the detached pontoon. We look forward to your continued cooperation,” said Macgoye.

Meanwhile, locals in Lamu East are accusing the national government of gambling with their lives for refusing to conduct regular servicing for jetties as is required.

Residents have had to shut down a section of the Mtangawanda jetty following the detachment of the pontoon Friday evening.

“I am trying to imagine if these jetties were in some other part of Kenya, the government would have ensured they are up to date but because this is Lamu, a county that has never really mattered, we have to reach a point where a pontoon not only detaches but also disappears at sea,” said Khaldun Vae,an elder from Kizingitini,Lamu East.