Likoni residents celebrate Christmas in style as they cross floating bridge
A historic Christmas is what Likoni residents had this year when they for the first time they crossed the Likoni channel using a floating bridge.
A section of the residents on Friday had a first-hand experience of using the newly built floating bridge.
The residents used the Sh1.9 billion bridge to walk to and from Mombasa Island to meet their relatives and friends to celebrate Christmas day in style.
“This is the best feeling ever. I left home and simply walked across the bridge and after 10 minutes I was already in town. This project is the best thing that has ever happened to us,” said Ms Martha Atieno, a resident who crossed from Likoni to Mombasa town.
Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata said the bridge was opened on Christmas day as a gift to the resident by the government.
“We felt that we should allow the residents to have a feeling of the bridge as a Christmas gift as promised by the President (Uhuru Kenyatta). We are glad that the residents are so happy,” said Mr Elungata who led the walk across the bridge while accompanied by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) acting Managing Director Rashid Salim.
KPA and Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) are in charge of the operations of the bridge which was officially commissioned by President Kenyatta on December 10.
On Friday, the government officials walked together with the residents. The walk, which was led by the National Youth Service (NYS), saw them marching across the bridge.
Exited youths did not miss the opportunity to take photos on the bridge.
Mr Elungata said the opening of the bridge was to also give it a test on how it will be used while considering the Covid-19 protocols.
“We have seen that it is possible to follow all the regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. That was [one] main purpose for this bridge and we have seen that it is possible for the rules to be adhered to,” he said.
A spot check also revealed that the bridge has now been fixed with side rails for the safety of users.
Mr Elungata said works are still ongoing to ensure that all the safety measures are met before the bridge is officially opened on January 1.
“We have been having police officers and they will continue to be here throughout when the bridge is officially opened. There are also sections of the bridge where the gaps will be fixed for safety purposes,” he added.
The bridge is 1.2 kilometres long and stretches from Liwatoni on Mombasa Island to Ras Bofu (Peleleza) in Likoni.
The construction works involved establishment of pile foundations and a bailey type bridge (a type of portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge).
A pile foundation is formed by long, slender, columnar elements, typically made from steel or reinforced concrete. A foundation is described as ‘piled’ when its depth is more than three times its breadth.
The upper section comprises of lattice steel designed from prefabricated parts with a movable main steel structure.
The bridge will be demobilised at least an hour before ships arrive to allow them to enter or leav the Mombasa port.
Mr Elungata said once it starts official operations, there will be communication to commuters on the closing and opening time.
“We will put the announcement at the entrance on both sides which will allow the pedestrians to know when to cross. We will ensure that it is utilised well during peak hours,” he said.
Shipping lines agents will also be receiving communication on the same to allow a smooth movement of ships that are entering and leaving the Mombasa port, KPA acting MD Rashid Salim said.