Movement in Mombasa and its surrounding areas will be eased following plans to extend the Likoni Cable cars project to Moi International Airport, Nyali and Malindi.
Construction of the Sh5.8 billion project moved closer to reality after pre-engineering works were completed last week.
Kenya Ferry Service managing director Bakari Gowa said after the Likoni project Trapos Group, which is handling the work, will look into expansion to other areas.
The areas include Moi International Airport and the Nyali suburb. The cable cars will also be extended to Malindi in Kilifi County, he said.
“The promoters will decide when the expansion will be done. We are waiting for the construction of the cabins which will be built in one year’s time in Germany,” said Mr Gowa.
In an interview with Shipping, Trapos Group chairman Eustace Mwarania said expansion of the project in Mombasa will cost $200 million (Sh20 billion). Dr Mwarania said the Likoni project will be “a demonstration” of the technology before it is fully expanded to other parts of the county. We will have three lines which will be moving from Likoni to Mwembe-Tayari in the CBD, another one from the CBD to Nyali and the other line will be connecting to Changamwe which is called the Airport line,” said Dr Mwarania.
He said that since the project is being done under the PPP model, it will involve the county administration and the National Treasury.
According to the plan, moving from Mwembe-Tayari to Likoni channel will take five minutes and from Mwembe-Tayari to Nyali four minutes.
“What we are doing is to ease transport and not replace road transport. We are facing congestion in many of our cities and the project will be one of the best ways of de-congestion,” he added. Currently, motorists take more than 40 minutes from Mwembe Tayari to Nyali due to huge traffic jams.
Commuters using the busy 500-meter Likoni channel will cross in about three minutes.
The express link will have 22 cable cars which will carry 38 passengers per cabin. The cars will carry 11,000 commuters per hour in both directions, a total of 180,000 people daily. Some 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles use the channel daily.
The commuters use four ferries namely MV Jambo, MV Likoni, MV Harambee, and MV Nyayo to cross the channel.
Germany was chosen to build the cabins due to its expertise in ensuring safety. The cabins will travel 100 metres above sea level.
Mr Gowa said the project was awaiting Cabinet approval before work begins by August. “What we are now waiting for is approval by the Cabinet after which the investor will sign a financial agreement with project handlers,” said Mr Gowa.
Trapos, sponsors of the project, got into an agreement with KFS last December.
The project will be managed by Likoni Cable Express Limited. According to the agreement, once Trapos Ltd settles on the investor the project will be managed by Likoni Cable Cars Express for 25 years.
“We are now in the process of getting the title deed for the piece of land where the two major masts will be put. The masts and the landing stations are major installations in this project and the land where they are to be put up must be given a clean bill of health for use,” said Mr Gowa.
The KFS and Kenya National Highways Authority were in dispute over ownership of the piece of land on the mainland side of the channel. The matter was settled after intervention by officials from the Ministry of Transport.