Mombasa motorists brace for traffic disruption at Kibarani
By Benard Sanga
| July 7th 2021
Motorists in Mombasa should brace for a major traffic disruption from Saturday when the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) will close one section of the Makupa Causeway.
Tourists rushing to Moi International Airport and long-distance truck drivers ferrying goods in and out of the island will all be forced to use only one way for the next six months to pave way for construction of the bridge.
The 450-metre bridge worth Sh4.5 billion is aimed at connecting the Tudor and Port Reitz creeks.
Yesterday, KeNHA said the island-bound carriageway at Makupa will be closed and traffic diverted to the Nairobi bound line. The diversion is to allow the ongoing construction of the Makupa Bridge and approach roads along the causeway.
“We urge all motorists to follow the signage and guidance provided by the traffic police and marshals to enable smooth traffic flow across the causeway,” reads the notice.
Container Freight Station Association CEO Daniel Nzeki said trucks picking cargo at the facilities will be forced to operate at night to avoid the anticipated gridlock.
“To avoid causing congestion we will operate at night. Mombasa-Mavueni-Mariakani is another option even though it is far. We expected the disruption and we have plans,” said Mr Nzeki.
Matatu drivers ferrying passengers between Mombasa and the west of the island said they will be forced to increase fares to compensate for lost time and fuel because of the traffic jam.
“All public transport will definitely increase the fare,” said Matatu Owners Association vice-chairman Salim Batesi.
He noted that although they support the construction of the road, matatu owners will incur extra costs that will be passed on to passengers.
The Makupa causeway, which is along the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway, is the main link between the port city to other parts of the country.
In May, China Communications Construction Company Limited started construction of the bridge after the contract for the two four-lane parallel bridges was awarded last November.
It will have a width of 20 metres for each bridge, and an additional two-metre rail for non-motorised traffic and a pedestrian pathway. KeNHA said the new bridge is also intended to accommodate the old railway line. The roads agency is also in talks with Kenya Railways on how to incorporate the Standard Gauge Railway.
For two months, KeNHA has held talks with different stakeholders to determine an appropriate traffic management plan to facilitate smooth flow of vehicles in and out of Mombasa.
In May, Kenya Transporters Association told truckers to keep off the causeway for the 18 months the road works will be ongoing and use alternative routes.
“Kindly note that the Makupa causeway shall be closed from access by trucks for the next 18 months. KeNHA has published a gazette notice,” said KTA chief operations officer Mercy Ireri.
Currently, the Nairobi-bound lane at the causeway is being used by small vehicles while trucks use alternative routes like Mombasa-Mavueni-Mariakani road and through Mombasa Port.
The State intends to restore Mombasa’s fully island status after demolishing the causeway built by the British in 1929.
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