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State constructs Sh1.15b bridge to link Funzi island, Msambweni

Coast
 An ariel view of the Mwachande Bridge in Funzi Island in Kwale County that is still under construction, November 14, 2023. [Courtesy, Transport Ministry]

The government has embarked on the construction of a Sh1.15 billion bridge to link Funzi island and Msambweni mainland in Kwale county.

The project is expected to boost the economy of the area which includes fishing and tourism.

Funzi Island is a tropical haven with mangrove forest, green coral reefs and lush green vegetation.

Its white sandy beach is a tourist attraction and consists of four mangrove-covered islands, where Funzi Island is the main one with permanent inhabitants.

The projects involve the construction of Funzi causeway spanning 500 metres and a two-kilometre road to the mainland.

The causeway to connect with the Milalani -Munje road is expected to be complete by next year.

The causeway will be used by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles that service the island’s tourism and fishing sectors.

The crossing point is located about five kilometres from the mainland in Msambweni sub county and provides access to Funzi Island's hotels, social amenities, schools and health centres.

Stakeholders said the idyllic island holds great tourism and fishing potential that will boost the economic and social potential of the inhabitants.

Residents are optimistic that the project will open up Kwale to tourist investments and the leisure industry.

The residents welcomed the project saying that the causeway over the Funzi creek will be a game changer especially during high tide.

"It is expected that once complete it will enable residents to venture out and get back to the island at will instead of waiting for low tide or walking around an outcrop of rocks to get back home," said Idd Bambaulo, a village elder. 

Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Mr Kipchumba Murkomen who toured the area recently said the project said will boost the local economy.

He announced that the project will be formally launched in July next year.

Murkomen said the project being undertaken by the Kenya Rural Roads Authority will ease the transportation of people and goods across the Funzi island and the mainland and hence boost trade.

The CS noted that the scope of works involves the construction of a vented causeway and improvement of approach roads from gravel to bitumen standard and the maintenance of Funzi causeway.

Murkomen said the causeway will improve safety, connectivity and amenities for the fisher folks.

The CS who was accompanied by Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani also inspected the ongoing construction of the Sh2.6 billion Shimoni fish port, the Sh538 million Mwachande bridge and Sh2.3 billion Diani Airport rehabilitation and expansion project.

Mwachande bridge is being built across River Ramisi and connects Msambweni and Lungalunga sub-counties in Kwale county.

The infrastructure projects are expected to boost fishing, agriculture and tourism which are the lifeline for the communities.

Murkomen noted that Mwachande bridge links thousands of people to markets and amenities like hospitals and schools.

The CS expressed optimism that Diani airport upgrade will increase the number of tourists to the coastal region as the sector continues to recover from the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said larger capacity aircraft will soon start flying to the Diani airport formerly Ukunda airstrip.

The project includes extending the runway from the current 1.2 km by 200 metres, construction of ultra-modern terminal and apron to enable bigger aircraft to land.

Achani said the new runway which has been designed to handle larger and heavier aircraft is hoped to increase the tourist resort town’s appeal as a fly-in destination by attracting direct international flights.

Diani is a preferred holiday destination for Kenyans and foreigners owing to attractive beaches.

Diani has been voted the best beach destination in Africa six years in a row by the World Travel Awards.

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