Nairobi- Mombasa highway should bypass

Visits to the beaches along the Kenya coast often begin with traffic jams trying to cross to the Northern mainland via the single bridge out of the city of Mombasa or else long waits for the ferries to cross the Likoni channel. The former is due to having reached almost maximum capacity after serving coast residents since the late 1970’s and the latter is one of the reasons why travel advisories remain in place over security concerns.

To fix the perennial traffic jams on both spots have plans long been floated to build a bypass to connect both the Moi International Airport and the Nairobi to Mombasa highway with the South coast via Dongo Kundu while the building of a second bridge across Tudor Creek is considered the answer to ease traffic in and out of Kenya’s main port city to the suburbs on the Northern mainland.

Controversy arose two years ago when government plans became public to use the site of the former float bridge, which was in use until the new bridge was built, mainly because much of the land on former bridge heads and the respective access routes had been sold. Residential and commercial properties, including the Tamarind Hotel, had been built on land legally acquired by the owners at the time, prompting them to engage lawyers to fight plans to restore that traffic corridor on the flimsy grounds that the wayrights were never degazetted.

As a result were alternative routes sought, not too far from the present bridge, to allow for commuter traffic to get in and out of the city. While the government has reportedly commissioned a feasibility study, which will also contain proposals for the location of the second bridge, has the coast chairperson of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators, Mrs. Monica Solanki, thrown her association’s weight behind a more distant alternative, which is to connect the Northern mainland from the Changamwe area to Junda, allowing tourist vehicles and commercial trucks to give the city of Mombasa a wide berth, helping to decongest the roads now used for transit traffic. She also advocated once again for the upgrading of the Mariakani – Kaloleni road which would create yet another viable option for transit traffic coming from upcountry and destined for Kilifi and Lamu counties to avoid crossing through Mombasa.

The stretch of coast North of Mombasa is expected to eventually see the construction of a second national convention centre which would require swift access for conference delegates while real estate developments are thought to be the next big thing along the coast, giving expatriates, and of course locals, the chance to own a condominium or residential villa in gated estates with ocean view. This, when such plans eventually materialize, could rival some of the Gulf’s property developments but at a location of much more moderate climate and the hinterland’s safari parks, besides sporting facilities like golf courses and marinas.

When the feasibility study will be published be sure to watch this space for updates on future plans of how best to deal with Mombasa’s traffic problems and make visits to the coast resorts more user friendly.

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