Disuse turning footbridges into white elephants

Buxton footbridge

A hawker walks near the Buxton footbridge in Mombasa. The footbridge is usually unused by residents.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

A new way of protecting pedestrians is by building footbridges. But residents of some particular areas have not put these footbridges to good use, seeming to instead prefer to cross the dangerous roads on foot instead of using the facilities.

In Mombasa County, for instance, two footbridges have recently been built — one across Makande from Tudor area and the other at Buxton Estate. However, these footbridges are rarely used despite having cost the taxpayers millions of shillings to build.

In addition, it is said there is a plan to dismantle Liwatoni footbridge for a yet-to-be-disclosed reason. On getting the unconfirmed news, residents protested against the move since they have challenges commuting. Those without vehicles are forced to, early every morning, incur a cost to cross the footbridge and pay double the usual fare. If the claim is true, why was the footbridge built in the first place and at what cost? And why is it earmarked for demolition?

These and many other questions disturb Kenyans as the economy is not doing well.

But why do residents rarely use the Makande and Buxton footbridges? Is it because of insecurity or distance? In the absence of a zebra crossing on the highway, let a traffic police officer be permanently stationed there to ensure the safety of pedestrians when crossing the road.

There are plans to extend the Liwatoni footbridge all the way to Ganjoni Estate. Let the planners and engineers go back to the drawing board, carry out conclusive feasibility studies and ensure there is public participation to ensure ‘ownership’ of the project — lest these footbridges become white elephants.

Elsewhere in the country, there are footbridges that are not being used. We need development but useless footbridges should not be built.