- The Sh1.9 billion Likoni floating bridge which connects Mombasa Island to the South Coast has altered the navigational charts for mariners.
- Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) will be putting up a shipping notice to port stakeholders informing them on the maritime navigational changes.
- Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu said the floating bridge is a new landmark that necessitates the redrawing of port navigation charts to ensure maritime safety in compliance with international law.
The Sh1.9 billion Likoni floating bridge which connects Mombasa Island to the South Coast has altered the navigational charts for mariners.
Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) will be putting up a shipping notice to port stakeholders informing them on the maritime navigational changes.
Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu said the floating bridge is a new landmark that necessitates the redrawing of port navigation charts to ensure maritime safety in compliance with international law.
The 824-metre-long floating bridge with a width of six metres changed the features at the entry to the Port of Mombasa. Vessels calling at the port require such charts to safely cross the Loikoni channel.
“We will be amending the charts and filing with the International Hydrographic Organisation as required,” Ms Karigithu said.
The organisation is mandated to ensure that all the world’s seas, oceans and navigable waters are surveyed and charted, ensuring that not only vessels navigate safely, but that marine environment is protected as well.
Meanwhile, the PS who made the announcement during an inspection tour of the works, said economic benefits of the project launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta mid last month had already started manifesting.
“For a long time, one of the biggest issues we used to have was breaking down of the Mtongwe Ferry. Anytime it stopped functioning we would have heavy human traffic at the Likoni channel. This is a very exciting development that touches on their economic activities,” said the former Kenya Maritime Director-General said the advent of the floating bridge is a relief to the residents’ pockets.
“They will save money and time previously spent waiting for the ferries, since most people cross at the Likoni ferry to connect to the Industrial Area of Mombasa in Ganjoni side,” she added.
Similar sentiments were expressed by her Interior counterpart Karanja Kibicho during his New Year tour.
“Residents are now able to cross from the Likoni mainland to Mombasa Island in a few minutes and the small-scale traders I interacted with expressed joy and optimism that business will now improve due to ease of movement. I am equally impressed by the quality of workmanship on the bridge which will de-congest the Likoni ferry channel and reduce stampedes at the crossing,” he said.
Despite the exciting development, residents of the coastal region will still have to rely on ferries, especially at night.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) acting Managing Director Rashid Salim said the bridge will be inaccessible to the public at night.
“We want to ensure safety and timeliness for ships coming in and out of the port. We intend to also close the bridge at night for safety of the public. It may not be safe for them to cross at night,” he said quickly allaying fears of congestion by clarifying that the authority will work out a schedule to ensure that the bridge will be accessible during peak hours of morning and evening.
“We will be doing the morning peak hours up to 7:30am depending on the shipping movements in and out of the harbour and then we open for a while, during the evening peak hours we will allow pedestrian to cross,” he explained.
KPA, which took over management of the bridge as well as ferries after the Kenya Ferry Services was recently dissolved, has started holding public safety meetings to sensitise residents on how to conduct themselves while using the bridge.
“People should keep social distance, wear face masks and use sanitisers. We also warned them against standing in the middle of the bridge to take pictures This is for their safety. So far the opening and closing of the bridge is being managed by our stationed captain, engineer and other staff,” he added.
With an estimated 300,000 pedestrians and 6,000 vehicles crossing the Likoni ferry daily, congestion at the crossing channel has been a major challenge, however the floating bridge has alleviated the pressure.
Mr Salim said the bridge has reduced congestion at the Likoni ferry channel.