Mombasa resident are set to enjoy the first foot crossing at the Likoni Channel. It’s a Christmas gift like no other, and the government is hopeful that the project will be complete before or around Christmas.
The Sh1.9 billion project is the first of its kind in the region. It is a pedestrian only bridge, which ‘floats away’ to allow passage of vessels of all sizes.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia led a government delegation to inspect the bridge last week, when he revealed that President Uhuru Kenyatta will be launching it for public use in a couple of weeks.
The 824 metre structure has been built by the Chinese in record time. It features a 150-metre long movable part in the middle, which will be opened using motors to allow for vessels to pass.
It is expected to decongest the ferry service, which serves 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles daily. Other than vehicles, cyclists, motorcyclists and tuk tuks will also not be allowed. However, authorities think that cyclists might be allowed to use it as some stage.
Ambulances will be exempted from this prohibition of motor vehicles.
However, it has now been revealed that the bridge is only a temporary solution. Despite having a lifespan of over 50 years, CS Macharia said that the bridge will be dismantled in 2025, and re-assembled in another area that might need it, e.g. Lamu.
This he revealed will happen once the Mombasa Gate Bridge is constructed.
Expected to cost over Sh200 billion, the Mombasa Gate Bridge will be the permanent solution to the crossing. It is however unclear when construction will ever start, although the CS said that it is currently in the design stage. The design will be complete in June 2021, he added.
Macharia said that the floating bridge was an emergency relief during this Covid-19 period to allow resident to social distance, something impossible in ferries.
“There are so many commuters who use the ferry daily and this puts them at risk of contracting Covid-19. The floating bridge will serve about half of the users and this will ensure social distancing is practiced,” Macharia stated.
It will be operated by the Kenya Ports Authority and the Kenya National Highways Authority.