Mombasa County Commissioner Lucas Mwanza has urged area residents to make good use of the Liwatoni footbridge that links the island to the mainland south.
Mwanza said the Sh1.9 billion bridge that was constructed by the national government to ease congestion at the busy Likoni ferry channel is safer and convenient for pedestrians.
“The objective of the bridge is to ease pressure of the overcrowded Likoni ferries during the current covid-19 pandemic,” said Mwanza.
The County Commissioner was speaking when he led the county security team and officials of Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) on the tour of the likoni ferry and Liwatoni footbridge.
The tour follows the stampede at the ferry that took place on Wednesday evening where several people were injured and rushed to various hospitals.
According to Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) Managing Director Bakari Gowa, the stampede was caused by inpatient pedestrians at the waiting bay who disregarded security protocols and forced their way to board the ferries.
“It is imperative to enhance security at both sides of the channel to avoid such incidents,” said Gowa.
Mwanza said the government will increase security involving a multi-agency team led by a police commander to ensure the safety of the pedestrians and to keep away idlers and criminals.
He said at the moment approximately 216,000 people are using the footbridge on a daily basis and that they intend to increase the figure to 300,000 in order to reduce human congestion at the Likoni channel.
KeNHA Deputy Regional Director (Coast) Howard M’mayi assured area residents that necessary safety measures have been put in place on the first pedestrian footbridge to be built in the country as part of the measures to combat covid-19 pandemic.
“The bridge was constructed to end the perennial human congestion at the vital busy Likoni crossing channel and also to manage social distancing at the peak of the pandemic,” said M’mayi.
He added that the footbridge will complement the existing ferry services to streamline safe passageways for pedestrians and reduce overcrowding that characterize the busy channel.
M’mayi noted that the bridge is the only major infrastructure project constructed by the national government as part of the measures to combat spread of coronavirus.
The bridge is a composite structure designed for pedestrians only whose deck comprises a 529 meter long floating section, and 54 meter long approaches on either side of the floating span.
The floating suspension bridge is connected by pins and hinges and guard rails installed on either side of the deck to ensure pedestrian safety.
It has created the shortest route linking Mombasa Island and mainland south and onward to the neighboring Kwale County thus reducing the link distance and cutting on time spent on queuing to board the ferries.
By Mohamed Hassan