Austrian technology company Doppelmayr Group has won a contract to set up the Sh5.8 billion Likoni cable car project.
Doppelmayr will start the construction in May. The work will take two years, with commuters expected to start enjoying cable car services from 2020.
Trapos Limited, sponsors of the project, and Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) signed the agreement of the multi-billion shilling project in December.
KFS managing director Bakari Gowa in an interview on Thursday said the agency was finalising a deal to acquire land on which masts to support the cable cars will stand.
“The issues we are handling now are minor because land has been identified. Another issue is the appointment of directors who will represent the KFS,” said Mr Gowa.
According to the agreement, once Trapos Ltd settles on the investor the project will be handled by Likoni Cable Cars Express Ltd for 25 years.
“After the 25 years concession period KFS or any eligible company will upgrade, maintain and ensure service delivery to users,” Mr Gowa said. The express link will have 22 cable cars that will carry 38 passengers per cabin. It will carry 11,000 commuters per hour in both directions, a total of 180,000 people per day.
Commuters will cross the 500 meter channel in about three minutes. They will pay between Sh20 and Sh100.
Mr Gowa said the project will help decongest Likoni channel which is used by 330,000 people and more than 6,000 vehicles daily.
The Likoni and Mtongwe channels are currently the only links to the South Coast by road.
KFS is banking on the cable cars to give commuters using the Likoni channel long term solutions to transport hitches through cable cars and better maintenance of the ferries.
On Mtongwe channel, Mr Gowa said KFS is planning to allow carrying of both people and vehicles on the ferries. He said this will be done after the acquisition of land to allow access.
“The plans to have expansion of access roads of the Mtongwe channel are included in this year’s financial plan. We are projecting to have more people coming to the South Coast when will have the new project,” said Mr Gowa.
Currently, at least 15,000 people are using the Mtongwe channel whose services were reinstated by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March last year.
KFS has been struggling to sustain ferry services at the channel where Mv Likoni is operating.
Mv Jambo, Mv Harambee, Mv Nyayo and Mv Kilindini are operating at the busy Likoni channel.
The sixth ferry, Mv Kwale is currently undergoing repairs of its faulty prows at the KFS dry dock.