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History of Kenya Ferry Services


Ferry services at Likoni Mombasa started in 1937. The ferries have remained the one and only link to the south coast. The operations are situated on the gateway to the port of Mombasa. The link is important not only to the local users but to those heading to Tanzania and beyond.
The ferries at Likoni were initially ran by Kenya Bus Services Ltd, on a franchise arrangement with the Municipal Council of Mombasa. The bus company also operated a network of buses around town and in Nairobi.
The earlier operations were done using pontoons driven by motor boats. It was not until 1957 that the era of modern ferries surfaced.
The company continued operating for about 32 years until 1989 when it decided to pull out. It is then that the Government of Kenya decided to take over the operations of the ferries.
The Government therefore bought all the ferry crafts including Pwani, Mvita, St. Michael, Pombo and Mtongwe 1 at a price of Ksh 10.5m. The staff was similarly retained at their existing terms and conditions of service.
The government then asked Kenya Ports Authority to run the services on its behalf. Kenya Ports Authority on their part changed one of its subsidiary company's Bunty Estates Ltd to Kenya Ferry Services Ltd and commenced operations on 1st November 1989.
In 1990 the government bought four new ferries namely Mv's Nyayo, Harambee, Kilindini and Mtongwe 2 at a cost of Shs 376 million to supplement the existing fleet. Through financial assistance by way of advances from Kenya Ports Authority and the Exchequer, the company was able to sustain its operations during its infancy.
In 1998 the government formalized the ownership of the company through a National Assembly Sessional Paper No.3 of the same year, by transforming the contributions of both the government and Kenya Ports Authority into equity. Share capital was thus increased from Shs.2 million to Shs 500 million. The company is now owned 80% by the government and 20% by Kenya Ports Authority.


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