The Likoni Channel has been declared a military zone that is out of bounds from all non-authorized civilians, the Kenya Feery Services (KFS) announced on Monday afternoon.
Civilians banned from Likoni ferry area, Navy declares it a military zone
Indian Navy officers have docked at Likoni channel
The order barred members of the public including amateur divers and journalists who have been covering the rescue operation, from going near the channel.
KFS Chairman Dan Mwazo said expert divers hired by the family of Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu would continue to access the channel under the guidance of the Kenya Navy.
The government has also brought in expert divers from South Africa to assist in the operation.
“The divers who have been hired by the family from Subsea company are here. The government has also hired three more from South Africa. We also have machines for the operations…They have therefore requested people to vacate this place so that it eases their operation,” said Mwazo.
The militarization order is expected to reduce activity at the Likoni ferry that have worsened the conditions in the deep seas and complicated the search and rescue operation.
The rescue operation was on Monday morning delayed as the Indian Navy parked their ships at the channel ahead of a training exercise.
"We are late because of the Indian air force who had to put their big four ships in order. They have come for a visit and to do some exercise. However, we are going to embark on our operations anytime soon from now," Mwazo explained, adding that the Indian navy officers could participate in the operation.
In the past nine days, the ferry has continued to operate on most days even as the search operation was ongoing.
Dredging has also been taking place, muddying the waters and lowering visibility near the seabed.
There have also been cases of a civilian attempting to cross the Likoni Channel after the ferry service was delayed.
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