Mombasa seeks Denmark hand to build water transport system

Mombasa residents using the floating bridge to move to their respective places on March 31, 2021. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The Mombasa government is set to develop a water transport system aimed at boosting the county's economy.

The county government has reached out to international bidders to help develop the project billed as a game changer in the tourism sector through easy linkages.

The plan is aimed at easing traffic congestion in the port and tourist city.

During a meeting in Mombasa with a visiting delegation from Denmark led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir said his administration was keen to take up water transport but needed international expertise.

"Denmark stands out with its rich history in transport particularly in the maritime sector, hence the need to reach out to you," Mr Nassir told the minister who was accompanied by Danish Ambassador to Kenya Ole Thonke.

He said the talks mostly bordered on possible areas of partnership and collaboration in maritime affairs given the strategic global position that Denmark enjoys in the sector. 

In addition, Nassir pushed for public-private partnerships (PPP) to establish modern water transport networks to ease traffic congestion in Mombasa. 

“Mombasa is ready to step into the modern age as the primary logistics hub for the Horn of Africa. Mass urban transport will be key to facilitating economic growth."

He added that Mombasa has advertised for an expression of interest to implement modern water transport through PPP model.

Mombasa joins a growing list of counties that have moved to tap into water transport to ease movement and boost their economies.

Already, counties in Lake Victoria region such as Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori counties have some form of water transportation systems in operation.

Experts in maritime sectors have welcomed the move by the Mombasa county administration, terming it long overdue.

Eric Kidaga, a transport and logistics expert at the Port of Mombasa, said it was time for Mombasa to operationalise water transport to boost its standing as a hub for both land and sea transport.

"Once bidders and investors are found, we could see the start of sea transport to places like Lamu further north and Shimoni in the south where tourist shuttles could be a feature," he said.

Mr Rasmussen pledged his country's support and a desire to deepen and strengthen local government at the grassroots in line with the vision of the framers of the Kenyan constitution. 

He said Denmark would remain a dependable economic partner and ally to Kenya and by extension, Mombasa, as both nations navigate the emerging challenges.

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