Crossing Kilindini by a cable car

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News items by Daily Nation, Capital FM, Business Daily and others reported today on plans to construct a cable car over the Likoni Creek in Mombasa, complementing the Ferry currently connecting Mombasa Island to the South Coast. First time hearing about this project, it should be ready by January 2017 (only a fool believes it will).

Being a mzungu used to riding matatus, boda-bodas, unofficial taxis, and buses best described as wrecks, I rate taking Likoni Ferry being the most uncomfortable means of transport in Kenya. That’s waiting the ferry sometimes for ages, then rushing there with hundreds of other passengers, and once on the ferry trying to breathe in all that congestion while guarding my pockets and bags as vigilantly as possible. I’ve had idea of a first class for ferry passengers who are ready to pay for comfort. That said, if the premium class existed, it would probably be such overpriced that I would opt to travel freely in all that crowdedness anyway!

The cable car would be built by Trapos Limited, a Kenyan company specialising in cable cars (!), in conjunction with Doppelmayr, an Austrian company familiar with ski resorts. According to this presentation the cable car would consist of cabins carrying up to 40 passengers (never seen such big cable car cabins, so I guess they take overcrowding into account). These cabins would run every 20-30 seconds (how do you load 40 pax in such time, BTW?).

Would these cabins be even be staffed? A crowded cable car could be a nightmare in terms of comfort, safety and security, even compared to the ferry. And what happens during power cuts? There are none of them in Mombasa, I guess…

Anyway, if properly implemented, the cable car would provide a welcome alternative to crossing the channel, but please accept my scepticism about the project!

An ideal solution would be building either a bridge or tunnel connecting Likoni to the Island, but both are extremely expensive to construct. A tunnel is probably not feasible due to the depth of the creek, while a bridge would have to be high enough not to disturb maritime access to the Kilindini Harbour (this affects the cable car too, by the way!)

In the meantime, the Dongo Kundu Bypass circumventing Kilindini Creek is still at point zero. According to the latest news they are “set to begin construction soon” Like so many key projects, I doubt it will ever be a reality. But who cares when in just one and half years we will be all crossing the creek on a fantastic cable car!

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