NEW TRAFFIC RULES BRING HOPE TO COAST TOUR OPERATORS
(Posted 02nd July 2013)
Details have become public over the weekend of new measures on the flow of traffic, to and from the Moi International Airport in Mombasa and in and out of the city from upcountry, both crucial elements for improving tourist traffic at the Kenya coast. A few months ago it was reported here that a massive traffic jam into Mombasa led to tourist vehicles being stuck for as much as 12 hours, before some of them were using rather rough roads across the country side to reach either the South Coast or the North Coast and drop their guests off at their resorts. Passengers leaving Mombasa by air have on some occasions in fact missed their flights as a result of traffic pile ups around the Changamwe area, leading to regular complaints from the coast tourism industry, alongside complaints about delays in crossing the Likoni Channel by ferry.
Coast stakeholders agree that a second bridge from the island of Mombasa to the North Coast and the long overdue bypass to the South Coast, which would like the international airport and the Nairobi – Mombasa highway to that part of Mombasa, would be hugely beneficial, but insist that access in and out of Mombasa across the Makupa causeway too need improving.
The Kenya National Road Authority together with the Mombasa County government have now announced new rules, in particular for trucks, which are often responsible for causing kilometre long jams, to avoid crucial sections around the Changamwe roundabout. This will give public service vehicles, private cars and tourist busses priority to get to the airport or leave the city on safari.
‘We need to wait and see how the new traffic rules will help the safari vehicles to get out of town or back to Mombasa. There have been a lot of issues about the time it takes for tourists who arrived in Mombasa to get to their resorts, or to get back to the airport when they leave Kenya. Key for long term improvements is the bypass to the South Coast, the widening of the Makupa causeway, better traffic regulation by police in and out along the Nairobi highway and a second bridge. Remember, we are supposed to get a big international convention centre at Bamburi and if we want to fill that with conferences our traffic issues need solving. For now I think everyone is grateful that some action is taken but we need to wait and see how this works out. They started yesterday with the new rules and it will take a bit to see how well it works’ contributed a regular Mombasa based source when passing the news. Tourism at the Kenya coast has been struggling since late last year and the downturn ahead of the elections in March literally wiped out what should have been a well booked high season. Feedback from the recently ended general meeting of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers however shows cautious optimism that the industry is set for a revival, made conditional though on the facilitation of the Kenya Tourism Board for a recovery marketing campaign. Watch this space.