Dec 5, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Bridge restores Mombasa to island status

Mombasa has regained its island status on Kenya’s coast after the completion and opening of the Makupa Bridge and dredging of the dam to Unesco standards.

Seawater now flows freely between the Tudor and Port Reitz Creeks at Kibarani, which will revitalize the affected marine ecosystem.

The $42.1 million Makupa Bridge, built by China Communications and Construction Company, is 457 meters long and has four lanes 20 meters wide a two meter section for non-motorized traffic and a pedestrian walkway.

In addition to restoring the marine ecosystem, the bridge will also improve traffic flow on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway. Drivers now take 10 minutes from Moi International Airport and all western mainland suburbs across the bridge to the island’s city centre. It will also become the third road connection between the island and the mainland to the north and west, after the Nyali Bridge and the Kipevu Dam on the port side.

Replacement

The bridge will be replaced the causeway built by the colonial government in 1929 to maintain full contact with the island. During construction, the dam cut off the free flow of seawater between the two streams that surround the island to the west, turning Mombasa into a peninsula. Over the years, massive reclamation of the sea at Kibarani has further clogged the creeks, reduced the water surface on the Port Reitz side, and silted up Tudor Creek, threatening marine life. In 2018, Unesco threatened to remove Mombasa as an island tourism town if the dam connecting the two streams was not demolished.

In January last year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the removal of the Makupa dam.

The extraction provided a solution to the constant traffic congestion on the main artery leading to the international airport and the standard gauge railway terminus at Miritini.

Work on the bridge to replace the dam started early last year and dredging was completed this month to comply with Unesco.

Kenyan marine expert Andrew Mwangura said: “Delisting Mombasa as an island could have had far-reaching consequences, particularly for tourism sector, but the bridge restored it to full island city status.”