Kenya’s long-held ambition of using cable cars to beat its crippling traffic gridlock is set to come to fruition in the next three months as the notorious Likoni crossing channel moves to install the aerial technology.
A concession agreement for the construction of Sh5.5 billion cable cars at the Likoni crossing channel has been finalised, paving the way for engineering works to start in March next year.
Trapos Africa, the consultants for the public-private partnership project and the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) said the project will be completed in 14 months from the commencement date. Trapos Africa has also been pursuing plans to introduce the technology to ease traffic congestion in Nairobi.
KFS managing director Bakari Gowa said the paperwork has been taken to the PPP secretariat for approval after the two parties held a meeting in Nairobi this week to finalise the matter.
“We have finalised the terms of construction and the contractor is ready to start the work next March ,” said Mr Gowa in an interview with the Business Daily.
The Likoni channel traffic has been cited among the top challenges facing tourism industry. International visitors arriving at the Coast through the Moi International Airport in Mombasa normally endure long hours of wait for space in the poorly maintained ferries to cross to their destinations.
The cable cars, said Mr Bakari, will move 20 per cent of the ferry users (about 80,000 people in a day) hence easing congestion on the ferries.
It is estimated that over 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles cross the channel every day.
The concession period will last for 25 years, after which the investor is expected to have recovered their cost and hand the project over to the government.
It is estimated that the Likoni Express Cable car will take two minutes and thirty five seconds to cross the 500 -metre stretch. Passengers will however be required to pay Sh20 per trip in off peak hours and Sh50 during peak hours, according to Trapos Africa chairman Eustace Mwarania.
Ferries currently take about 10 minutes to move passengers across the channel but delays of up to 40 minutes have been reported in the past due to frequent breakdowns.
While vehicles attract charges on ferries, the public have resisted previous attempt to introduce charges as low as Sh10 per crossing.
“Our charges will depend on the time that one is crossing the channel. During rush hour the fare will be a bit high and this will drop during off peak hours,” said Dr Mwarania.
The project will involve 22 cable cars with each one of them carrying 38 passengers, making nine trips per hour.
The Ministry of Transport is banking on the installation of cable cars across the Likoni channel and the construction of the Dongo Kundu by-pass to improve connectivity to the mainland in Mombasa.
The by-pass will be constructed under the Mombasa Port Area Road Development Project (MPARD) that aims to curb traffic congestion. The route will pass south of the Moi International Airport and west of the Port Reitz harbour before turning south.
The road will link Miritini on the mainland to Ng’ombeni in the south and include four bridges. It will also connect the Likoni-Diani highway.
The first phase of the project will focus on the highway from Miritini, west of the Moi International Airport to Vumirirani, according to the master plan.
Two large bridges will be constructed including a 495m span over water at Mkupe and a 1,360m span at Dongo Kundu.
In the second phase, the government will focus on improving roads on the mainland, including a key six kilometre link from the new container terminal to the southern by-pass.