Australian firm wins deal to build cable cars in Mombasa

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By Glenna Nyamwaya

Construction of the Likoni Cable Car Project is set to kick off in May 2018 after Austrian technology firm, Doppelmayr Group, won a KSh5.8 billion contract to set it up.

The project, expected to be complete within two years, means commuters will start enjoying cable car services in 2020. Speaking at a stakeholders meeting in Mombasa, the Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) Managing Director Musa Hassan Musa said KFS is in the process of setting up an express cable car service at the Likoni crossing that will link Mombasa Island and the mainland.

The project will aid in reducing congestion at the ferry crossing and boost tourism in the South Coast by providing a complimentary pedestrian crossing for the Likoni Channel, which will address the problems of ferry delays as witnessed before.

“With a capacity of 11,000 commuters per hour in both directions, commuters to and from South Coast will no longer be delayed. The infrastructure is also a tourist attraction in itself and offers panoramic views of the entire Mombasa region from 100 meters above,” Musa said.

The 1,300-meter-long express link will have 22 cable cars that will carry 38 passengers per cabin across the 500-meter channel in about three minutes. It will be able to carry 180,000 people per day who will pay between Sh20 and Sh100 for the services.

The project is sponsored by Trapos Limited who has contracted Doppelmayr, a Swiss/Austrian specialist company that manufactures chairlifts, cable cars, gondolas, surface tows for ski and amusement parks as well as urban transport systems.

CFC Stanbic Bank will provide funding for the project. In December 2017, KFS signed an agreement for the multi-billion shilling project with Trapos Limited after the latter proposed the idea to the Ministry of Transport in 2013, through a Public-PrivatePartnership-Plan (PPP).

Trapos Limited is expected to conclude a 30-year concession agreement between Likoni Cable Express and KFS as the contracting authority. “The assets will revert to Kenya Ferry Services at the conclusion of the concession period,” said Musa, further noting that the full transfer of the project to KFS will result in substantial annual revenues for the company, thereby reducing its dependence on the National Treasury.

The project is set to begin with the construction of towers, stations and connecting network cables along the route. Currently, the agency is finalizing on a deal to acquire land on which masts to support the cable cars will stand. The project, which will be the pilot and key contributor to the larger Mombasa Integrated Mass Transit Plan, is expected to be fully completed and commissioned by the year 2020.

“When the project is commissioned, travel time between the Island and the mainland that takes about 10 minutes, will take less than three minutes; a massive improvement for the people that are commuting between the two points,” said the KFS MD.

“But even more importantly, the Cable Car system to be built will revolutionize the mass transport system in Mombasa,” Musa added. The cable car project was initially estimated to cost Sh7.4 billion but KFS gave the cost of the construction as Sh3.8 billion, excluding the cost of a feasibility study completed earlier.

“By late 2020, we should see the first cable cars running concurrently with the ferries, making for a systematic double of coordinated transport infrastructure. These combined grids will ease transportation logjams that somehow impede economic progress in the South Coast,” he added.

The project, which supports Vision 2030 Section 3.1.3 of Second Medium term objective of delivering additional ferries, will also be the anchor to a Mombasa Aerial Cable Master-plan which will be expanded throughout the coastal region.

The project is expected to contribute to the region’s economic development including creation of jobs during both the construction and operations phases, facilitation of increased development in and around the Likoni District and tax contribution to the exchequer.

KFS currently ferries over 300,000 people daily across the busy Likoni channel free of charge, as well as more than 6,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, two new ferries worth Sh1.3 billion are being built in Turkey and are set to arrive in the country after June 2018.

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