The Liwatoni Pedestrian Floating bridge started operating on Friday after days of trials. Likoni residents have expressed their happiness, saying the bridge, which cost Sh 1.9 billion, has made things easier for them. “Now our children will get to school earlier and we will also get to our workplaces in time without having to wake up at least an hour earlier than we should,” Mwachiponi Omar, a Mtongwe resident, said.
One of the hawkers who lives about 50 metres from where the bridge ends on the Likoni mainland, says he used less than seven minutes to get to Mombasa Island. Usually, he would take at least 45 minutes using the ferry at the Likoni crossing channel. For those residents who called for the construction of a shed on the bridge, Mutua, who is a hawker in that area, did not side with them. He says it may not be practical. “We have used the Nyali Bridge for over 30 years and it has never had a shed. I don’t know why people are asking for a shed for this one,” Mutua said.
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However, the Nyali Bridge is half the length of the Liwatoni pedestrian floating bridge. The Nyali Bridge is about 440 metres long while the Liwatoni floating bridge is about 840 metres long. The residents said the Liwatoni Bridge will eliminate the ‘harassment’ experienced at the likoni ferry crossing channel. This happens when the guards at times use force to push travelers.
The advantages of the Likoni floating Bridge
There will be no pickpocketing here because people will be constantly moving. And also, there will be police officers deployed here. One of the residents said the decongestion at the Likoni ferry would reduce or eliminate stampedes. Such incidents have been witnessed several times because of the ferry accidents, especially during peak hours.
The bridge will also attract investors to Likoni because of the ease of movement. “Tourists will be coming here because today I have seen people from far places who have no business in town. They are coming here just to get the feel of the new bridge,” one of the residents said.
Business for small scale farmers will improve because of the large crowds using the floating bridge. According to most of the residents in this area, the government should invest in security on this bridge. This is because there will be some boys who will want to take advantage of this place to rob people.
The Coast regional commissioner John Elungata said residents should understand that the bridge was built specifically to ease congestion at the Likoni ferry and to help curb the spread of Covid-19. He clarified that the Likoni ferry crossing channel will not stop carrying pedestrians as earlier thought. He also stressed that the bridge is strictly for pedestrians. Only wheelchairs and ambulances in emergency cases will have permission to pass.
Once a ship designated to pass through has signaled, the bridge will be opened about 30 minutes before it is scheduled to pass. This means that by the time the ship passes, there will be about 45-60 minutes that will have passed before the bridge closes again for pedestrians to cross.