E-payments for ferry now available at Likoni crossing

Motorists at the Likoni Ferry Crossing in Mombasa use a cashless payment system. Once payment is done, the new system captures the vehicle’s number plate, and once approved, the barrier gate will automatically open to let the driver through.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation Media Group

A new digital payment system is set to boost efficiency at the Likoni ferry crossing in Mombasa amidst the looming competition expected with the completion of the Dongo Kundu bypass.

Payments can now be done using a USSD code with an intelligent automated barrier gates system placed on either side of the Likoni channel to confirm payment.

For a vehicle to cross the ferry, a payment has to be made through mobile money.

Different vehicles, depending on their sizes, are charged different amounts ranging from Sh120 to Sh7,900.

Once payment is done, the system captures the vehicle’s number plate, and once approved, the barrier gate will automatically open to let the driver pass through.

The gates are also fitted with a siren, which goes off in case a vehicle tries to go through without paying.

Ferry Cashless Project Chairperson Rajab Kombo said the system is currently in the piloting phase.

He said it is hoped the system will help to root out fraud at the channel, where vehicle owners sometimes do not pay toll fees before crossing or they dupe ferry officials on the type of vehicle they are driving, hence paying less money than they should.

This consequently affected revenue collection.

Kenya Ports Authority recently took over the management of the ferry and the Liwatoni Floating Bridge.

Currently, about 300,000 pedestrians and 6,000 vehicles use the channel daily.

The Likoni floating bridge, which has alleviated the pressure at the channel, is only accessible to the public during peak hours, in the morning and evening. Its operations stop at night.

At the moment, plans are under way to use ferries deployed at the Likoni channel for travel from the port of Mombasa to other Islands, including Zanzibar and Lamu, once construction of the Dongo Kundu Bypass is complete.

The bypass will be an alternative route to the South Coast and ease pressure at the crossing, which is currently the only connection to the South Coast through Mombasa.

But this will also lead to a decrease in the earnings at the ferry.

In 2018, Kenya Ferry would earn Sh1.9 million daily from vehicle tolls paid in cash.

The institution first launched a cashless payment system to increase its revenue collection in 2020.

This was also to enhance administrative accountability and cut revenue leakage.

An Auditor General’s Report for the year ending June 2020 showed that Kenya Ferry Services got an annual income of Sh1.3 billion, out of which Sh497 million is in respect to the income from its operations.