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Construction of Sh5.5bn Likoni cable car set to begin in Dec

 People board a cable car in Chongqing, China, August 22, 2016. AFP PHOTO | NICOLAS ASFOURI
People board a cable car in Chongqing, China, August 22, 2016. Construction of a Sh5.5-billion cable car at the Likoni crossing linking Mombasa Island and the mainland will start in December. AFP PHOTO | NICOLAS ASFOURI 

Construction of a Sh5.5-billion cable car at the Likoni crossing linking Mombasa Island and the mainland will start in December.

The express link will ease traffic jam, boost tourism and address the regular ferry breakdowns on the Likoni Channel.

Kenya Ferry Service Managing Director Bakari Gowa said the construction will start at the end of the year.

“About the cable cars it is indeed a reality. We expect final approval for the same to be done next week by the relevant unit and thereafter we shall proceed to ground breaking.

The construction will take 18 months and we are assured that we will be able to deal with the congestion once the project is complete,” said Mr Gowa.

He said the cable cars which will be running on a 500-metre wire, will help ease the human and vehicular traffic.

Top challenge

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.

“We will have 32 cabins and each can take a maximum of 28 passengers full capacity which will translate to 5, 000 people per hour,” said Mr Gowa.

It is estimated that the Likoni Express Cable car will take two minutes and thirty five seconds to cross the 500-metre stretch.

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.

Sh50 per trip

Passengers will however be required to pay Sh20 per trip in off-peak hours and Sh50 during peak hours.

While vehicles attract charges on ferries, the public have resisted previous attempt to introduce charges as low as Sh10 per crossing.

Last year a concession agreement for the construction of the Sh5.5 billion project was reportedly finalised.

This comes as the KFS management is struggling to enhance services at both the Likoni and Mtongwe channels.

Services at the Mtongwe channel were Tuesday suspended indefinitely. Mr Gowa said the management was working round the clock to restore the services.

“There is a damaged pontoon at the Island side of Mtongwe Channel which is being worked on by engineers and possibly from Monday we will be able to operate fully at the channel,” said Mr Gowa.