Bridge restores Mombasa to island status

Friday July 01 2022

The dredging below the Makupa bridge and the demolition of the causeway means water can now flow between the two creeks at Kibarani. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG


Mombasa has reclaimed its island status at Kenya's Coast following the completion and opening of the Makupa bridge and the dredging of the causeway, in compliance with Unesco standards.

Sea water now flows freely connecting the Tudor and Port Reitz creeks at Kibarani, which will revive the affected marine ecosystem.

The $42.1 million Makupa bridge, built by the China Communications and Construction Company, is 457-metres long with four 20-metre wide lanes, and a two-metre section for non-motorised traffic and a pedestrian footpath.

In addition to restoring the marine ecosystem, the bridge will also improve traffic flow on the Mombasa-Nairobi trunk road. It will now take motorists 10 minutes from the Moi International Airport and all western mainland suburbs to the island city centre using the bridge. It also becomes the third road link between the island and the mainland to the north and west, after the Nyali bridge and the Kipevu causeway on the port side.


The bridge replaces the causeway built in 1929 by the colonial government to maintain full contact with the island. During construction, the causeway cut the free flow of sea water between the two creeks surrounding the island to the west, making Mombasa a peninsula. Over the years, massive reclamation of the sea at Kibarani lead to even more blockage of the creeks, reducing the water surface on the Port Reitz side, and silting of the Tudor creek, threatening marine life. In 2018, Unesco threatened to delist Mombasa as an island tourism city if the causeway was not demolished to connect the two creeks.


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

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

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

Kenyan marine expert Andrew Mwangura said: "The delisting of Mombasa as an island could have had far-reaching consequences especially in the tourism sector, but the bridge has restored full island city status."