Works on the Sh5.8 billion cable car venture at the Likoni crossing is set to start in the next two months, easing movement of passengers between North Coast and South Coast.
The Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) and Trapos Limited on Tuesday signed an agreement for the implementation of the project.
The signing of the project agreement, otherwise referred to as the Commercial Close, will usher the way for the Private Partner to conclude financing arrangements (Financial Close) to enable implementation of the project
Likoni cable express chairman Gerald Muigai said works on the project will start in the next 60 days, as pre-engineering works which started in June is nearing completion.
“We expect to start actual works on this project in the next 60 to 90 days. In the meantime, we will be processing statutory construction permits,” said Mr Muigai.
At the moment, the Likoni channel is served by four ferries — MV Likoni, MV Jambo, MV Nyayo and MV Jambo.
Mr Muigai said the project will run for 25 years after construction, before the project and its assets including revenue are reverted to the Kenya Ferry Services.
“Among the expected benefits of the project is providing an efficient, reliable and safe alternative to the ferry crossing along the channel, improved security, increased tourism and improved business environment,’ he said.
Ferries 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 breakdowns. Passengers will be required to pay Sh20 per trip in off-peak hours and Sh50 during peak hours.
While vehicles attract charges on ferries, passengers resisted previous attempts to introduce charges of as low as Sh10 per crossing. Currently more than 350,000 people and 6,000 vehicles use the Likoni channel daily.
It is anticipated that the project will operate between 16 and 8 hours daily with a capacity to support a ridership of between 180,000 to 200,000 passengers.
The Likoni cable car project entails a Multi-Gondola Aerial Cable Car connection for the Likoni Cable Car Crossing, linking the South Coast Mainland to the Mombasa Island.
The cable will be carried by two towers (one on each side of the crossing) and maritime vessels will be able to pass under the cable.
The project’s transport capacity is 5,500 passengers per direction per hour.
The cable targets 20 per cent of the daily traffic initially leading to a ridership of 60,000 daily, with a projected minimum yearly growth of 5 per cent. This translates to 11,000 passengers per hour and a total of 187,000 passengers over the 17 hours in a day the cars will operate.
The C&C Construction Company, which will be in charge of erecting two 90-metre masts and building the landing stations, will construct the cable car system. The firm will work alongside the Austrian technology company, Doppelmayr Group, which will provide the cars and ropes.
According to the initial communication, the operator will be the Likoni Cable Express, a subsidiary of the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) and Tropos, a Nairobi-based aerial transit development firm.