The mandate of the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has been expanded to include the management of ferry services and a Sh1.9 billion floating bridge in Likoni.
The State corporation will also take over the functions of Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), while it will operate key bridges jointly with the Kenya National Highways Authority.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia assured the nearly 200 ferry workers that they will be absorbed by the parastatal during the consolidated exercise.
"Functions of KFS will be provided by KPA, which has massive capacity," said Mr Macharia, adding that the bridge was built to mitigate crowding on the ferry.
At least 30,000 commuters use the ferry daily, putting them at risk of contracting the coronavirus disease. The new bridge is expected to serve about half of the ferry users and ensure social distancing.
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On Friday, hundreds of residents of Mombasa’s upmarket Liwatoni estate staged a demonstration against the footbridge project and a planned bus terminal.
Led by Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki and Muslim clerics, the residents said the infrastructure projects will cause the value of their property to depreciate.
The protestors also criticised the national government for allegedly failing to consider the residents' views on the projects.
"I attend Friday prayers here and I am opposed to the plan to set up a matatu terminus here because it will disrupt the peaceful coexistence of Liwatoni residents. There was hardly any public participation as required by law. They never bothered to conduct a feasibility study,” said Mr Faki.
Council of Imams and Preachers Kenya Hassan Omar also said the bridge and proposed matatu terminus would be illegal because the Government had not consulted them.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to commission the bridge that was completed after a record five-and-a-half months of construction by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.
The bridge, which is 92 per cent complete, will be 824 metres long. It starts from the Liwatoni area and ends at Bofu Maskani in the Likoni South mainland. Pedestrian access will be through entry and exit lanes.
It has fixed-steel approaches and a 150-metre floating section in the middle of the Likoni channel that will swing open to allow passage of marine traffic.
"There will be room for the largest ship measuring 50 metres to easily pass through the floating part of the bridge while calling or exiting the port," said Macharia.
The Cabinet secretary said the bridge will be dismantled and assembled in another part of the country such as Lamu County once construction of a proposed Sh60 billion Mombasa Gate Bridge at the same site is completed.
"This is a floating bridge of its kind in the country. Passengers will be walking across as if they are on the island itself. With Sh1.9 billion investment, it is value for money. Some of the materials used to construct this bridge were assembled in China," said Macharia.
Construction of the fixed 70-metre gate bridge is expected to start in December next year and be completed in four years.