Work on the proposed Sh 1.7 billion Likoni floating footbridge that will link Mombasa Island to the mainland south is expected to start soon.
Coast Regional Commissioner (RC) John Elungata told KNA in an interview on Sunday that the first pedestrian footbridge to be built at the Likoni crossing channel is expected to end the perennial human congestion at vital busy crossing channel.
The regional administrator said the goal of the national government project is to ease pressure of the overcrowded Likoni ferries during the current coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.
He said the bridge will help reduce the perennial congestion at the crossing channel and allow residents to access Mombasa Island and the mainland south with a lot of ease.
Elungata said the project will be undertaken by the State Department of Infrastructure through its implementing agency, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).
He said the contractor, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is already on site at the Liwatoni area of Mombasa where the floating bridge dubbed ‘Likoni Floating Pedestrian Bridge’ will start towards the mainland south.
“Actually construction work has started this week and is expected to be complete by November this year,” he said
He went on ‘initially construction site was supposed to be at the scenic Mama Ngina Park but was moved to Liwatoni area in Mombasa Island where it will connect to the Likoni side at Raspovu near the Kenya Ferry Services headquarters’’.
He said the project will create the shortest route linking Mombasa Island and mainland south and onward to the neighbouring Kwale County thus reducing the link distance and cutting on time spent on queuing to board the ferries.
Elungata said the new floating bridge will be for the exclusive use of pedestrians as an alternative to the ferries noting that enforcing social distancing at the vital crossing channel has been a nightmare for the authorities since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
He said the suspension bridge once completed will ease the perennial vehicular and human traffic congestion at the Likoni ferry and allow for adequate social distancing in the face of covid-19.
He noted that observing social distancing which is a key intervention measure in curbing the spread of the viral disease would be a lot easier once the bridge is constructed.
The RC said the envisioned footbridge will complement the existing ferry services to streamline ‘safe passageways’ for pedestrians and reduce overcrowding that characterise the busy channel.
“The floating bridge provides an alternative to the ferries and will in the long run enhance trade and integration between the residents of the island and mainland south,” said Elungata.
The floating bridge will be a composite structure designed for pedestrians only. The bridge deck will comprise a 529 m long floating section, and 54 m long approaches on either side of the floating span.
The proposed bridge will have a discrete continuous structural system with 35 No. double body supported boats, and 2 No. end boats with twin springboards are installed to form the floating bridge deck.
The floating suspension bridge will be connected by pins and hinges and guard rails will be installed on either side of the deck to ensure pedestrian safety.
It is estimated that more than 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles cross the busy channel daily using MV Jambo, MV Kwale, MV Likoni, MV Kilindini and MV Nyayo.
Elungata at the same time urged residents in the coastal region to conform to the new way of life and adhere to all the public health regulations in place to mitigate the spread of the viral disease.
The RC asked residents to continue supporting the government efforts in curbing the spread of the disease.
He said Kwale and Kilifi counties should not let down their guard despite the two counties registering success in bringing down the number covid-19 infections.
“There should be no room for complacency in the war against the pandemic,” he said adding that health authorities would remain vigilant.
He said the easing of the coronavirus restrictions has allowed more people to get back to work and others resume their business activities giving them more opportunities to get out of their homes.
He said people should slowly and cautiously resume their socio-economic activities in the wake of the easing of the covid-19 restrictions which had created hardships.
“The easing of the coronavirus restrictions does not mean that it is business as usual,” he said adding that people need to abide by all the health guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health in a bid to break the cycle of infections and defeat the disease.
By Mohamed Hassan