The Sh5.5 billion cable car venture at the Likoni crossing that was expected to start this month has been postponed.
Kenya Ferry Services managing director Bakari Gowa said construction of the express link, which is being undertaken as a privately initiated investment project, will start in May.
“Kenya Ferry Services and Trapos Africa, the consultant of the project, have finally entered into a concession agreement for the construction of the cable car project,” said Mr Gowa.
“From this stage, final approval will be done by the Ministry of Transport after which we shall proceed with ground breaking.”
At the moment, the Likoni channel is served by ferries. The cable cars will be expected to ease traffic congestion, address regular ferry breakdowns and boost tourism.
Mr Gowa said the project will take between 18 and 24 months. The cars will run on a 50 metre-cable wire.
“The Likoni Cable Express will be a state-of-the-art multi-gondola cable car system running across the channel. This innovative passenger transport solution will operate seven days a week with a journey time of three to four minutes,” he said.
The project is set to employ more than 500 youths during construction, said Mr Bakari.
“This system can operate at wind speeds of 100 kilometres per hour. The technology is, for instance, used in Canada to connect two mountain peaks about two kilometres apart without any tower in between,” 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, about 300,000 commuter crossings are made at the channel daily.
Likoni Cable Express Project service however targets 20 per cent of this traffic initially leading to a ridership of 60,000 daily, with a projected minimum yearly growth of 5 per cent.
On a daily basis, it is anticipated that the project will operate 16-18 hours with a capacity to support a daily ridership of between 180,000 to 200,000 passengers.