Excitement as near complete Makupa bridge opens to the public

Motorists use the Makupa Bridge in Mombasa after it was opened to the public as a test run on June 17, 2022

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi I Nation Media Group

It will take motorists only about 10 minutes from Moi International Airport, Mikindani, Changamwe, Magongo and Jomvu to the Mombasa city centre via the over-sea Makupa bridge.

The Sh4.5 billion four-lane bridge connecting Mombasa island to the mainland is among President Uhuru Kenyatta’s key legacy projects on the Coast.

The project, which commenced in January 2021, is over 80 percent complete and is expected to be completed before the end of President Kenyatta’s tenure.

After that, Mombasa will fully regain its island status. The government will demolish the 1929 Makupa Causeway to allow free flow of water.

On Friday, hundreds of motorists from Mombasa West got a chance to use the iconic bridge after it opened to the public for a test run.

“We used to take more than two hours from Mombasa West to the CBD due to the traffic snarl-up at the Makupa Causeway,” said matatu driver John Katana.

“Frequent breakdowns of lorries worsened the situation along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, forcing public service vehicles to hike fares. But now we are cruising to town within 10 minutes.” 

In January last year, President Kenyatta ordered the removal of the causeway in Kibarani, exciting tourism players that congestion would be addressed.

The causeway is located near the former Kibarani dumpsite, which was shut following a presidential directive in 2018.

Motorists use the Makupa Bridge in Mombasa after it was opened to the public as a test run on June 17, 2022.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi I Nation Media Group

Hoteliers and transport stakeholders told the Nation that the bridge will ease congestion on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway. 

“The causeway has been a major bottleneck, especially for tourists travelling to and from Moi International Airport and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR),” said Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers executive officer Dr Sam Ikwaye.

The bridge, he said, has boosted access to Mombasa and will raise the profile of the tourism hub, image and aesthetics.

“Previously, we received cancellations after tourists missed their flights because of the major gridlock at the causeway, especially during peak hours,” Dr Ikwaye said.

“Every time trucks broke down, it was a nightmare for our clients, who would miss their flights. It used to take 45 minutes from Nairobi to Mombasa on a flight but it would take another three hours from the airport to the Mombasa CBD to the snarl-ups,” said.

He said the bridge is an important infrastructure for Mombasa as is the new expressway in Nairobi.

“It will help the entire spectrum of the road network in critical destinations. We now want the Likoni channel woes to end and the dualling of the Mombasa-Malindi highway, which will open up the North Coast region,” he added.

Matatu Owners Association Coast coordinator Salim Mbarak said with good infrastructure, businesses will thrive.

“We must also make the destination accessible by air and road,” he added.

The Makupa Causeway is one of three road links between the island and the mainland. The other two are the Nyali bridge and the Kipevu Causeway.

The causeway links Mombasa island to the western mainland, the region’s industrial and transport hub, where Moi International Airport, SGR, and Kenya Pipeline and other installations are located.

Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) officials told the Nation that the Makupa bridge opened to the public as a test run.

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