Crossings to and from the Island of Mombasa

It is believed canoes were used as ferry services to ferry people and loads to cross over from Mombasa to mainland or vice versa.

Not much is known about Mtongwe Ferry operating to the South Coast from Mombasa, that was located between Kilindini and Likoni around Baraki area...

Likoni Model Dairies
 by Doris Morgan


In the early 1930’s Bowring family moved to the Likoni area over to the South Coast of Mombasa, there stood a beautiful Arab’s house owned by Mohamedali just above the present ferry ramp. In those days there was no security required; doors needed no keys, windows no bars.
Another gabled house that still stands above present Likoni ferry ramp was Manager’s house of the East African Estates but is now rather hidden from view.

Likoni Model Dairies was started by Russel Douglas and Bowring family, at that time the only cattle at the coast providing milk for the island were in dairies on the island and all were stall fed from the moment they arrived at the Coast until they died. They were poorly maintained animals hooves grew as large as a soup plate through constant standing in one place.

Cows arrived on train into Mombasa they had to be taken over to the mainland on the old pontoon ferry. It does not take much stretch of the imagination to visualize the scene as the herd of cattle  were driven down the ramp on to the ferry.

Advertising gimmicks of Likoni Model Dairies was “everything under European Supervision” which meant member of the family had to be present at milking times.

Bus operated from Mombasa town to Likoni and back again, there was no ferry before 6 am and after 6pm, it operated between 6am to 6pm…milk was delivered to customers door step, by delivery men in the early hrs by boat when ferry not in use.
Likoni Ferry at that time was a two car ferry and at times broke down and often wandered out to sea.

With the Bowring family living on the mainland, also lived Sir Ali Bin Salim who lived at Peleleza was close to the family, Salim Road was named after him and was a genourous individual, who helped many, by also giving away land in Mombasa and surrounding area for devolopments as well as sports facilities.


Although it has been said that the Likoni ferry services started around 1937 it is clear from Ms Doris Morgan's accounts that Likoni Ferry was already in operation when their family moved to Likoni area in 1931.



Ferry services at Likoni - Kenya have been around since 1937, and have played a pivotal role in linking the island to the mainland south of Mombasa, in effect offering the one and only infrastructural lifeline between the two areas. It is therefore the backbone of all the communications, and economic development. Unlike the northern side of Mombasa that is linked by bridges at Nyali, Mtwapa Kilifi and Sabaki the south coast depends solely on the ferries.

Ferry services at Likoni Mombasa started in 1937. The ferries have remained the one and only link to the south coast. The operations are situated on the gateway to the port of Mombasa. The link is important not only to the local users but to those heading to Tanzania and beyond.

The ferries at Likoni were initially ran by Kenya Bus Services Ltd, on a franchise arrangement with the Municipal Council of Mombasa. The bus company also operated a network of buses around town and in Nairobi.
The earlier operations were done using pontoons driven by motor boats. It was not until 1957 that the era of modern ferries surfaced.
The company continued operating for about 32 years until 1989 when it decided to pull out. It is then that the Government of Kenya decided to take over the operations of the ferries.
The Government therefore bought all the ferry crafts including Pwani, Mvita, St. Michael, Pombo and Mtongwe 1 at a price of Ksh 10.5m. The staff was similarly retained at their existing terms and conditions of service.
The government then asked Kenya Ports Authority to run the services on its behalf. Kenya Ports Authority on their part changed one of its subsidiary company's Bunty Estates Ltd to Kenya Ferry Services Ltd and commenced operations on 1st November 1989.
In 1990 the government bought four new ferries namely Mv's Nyayo, Harambee, Kilindini and Mtongwe 2 at a cost of Shs 376 million to supplement the existing fleet. Through financial assistance by way of advances from Kenya Ports Authority and the Exchequer, the company was able to sustain its operations during its infancy.
In 1998 the government formalized the ownership of the company through a National Assembly Sessional Paper No.3 of the same year, by transforming the contributions of both the government and Kenya Ports Authority into equity. Share capital was thus increased from Shs.2 million to Shs 500 million. The company is now owned 80% by the government and 20% by Kenya Ports Authority.


Nyali Bridge/Likoni Ferry

The Nyali Bridge was a floating pontoon bridge linking Mombasa Island to the Kenyan mainland. The bridge linked the Mzizima district of Mombasa to Nyali, and was built in 1931. In 1980, the bridge was superseded by the New Nyali Bridge (located approximat


History and Development of Bridges in Kenya

By Eng. Cleophas N. Makau: MBA, Bsc(Civil Eng), R.Eng, MIEK . Manager in charge of Structures KeNHA

A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle. Designs of bridges vary depending on the function of the bridge, the nature of the terrain where the bridge is constructed, the material used to make it and the funds available to build it.

The history of Bridges in Kenya stretches before the colonial times when the indigenous community would use tree logs and rock boulders or rock fill across ‘unfriendly’ sections of the footpath. The ‘unfriendly’ sections included swamps, rivers and gorges. The crossing points along the footpaths largely followed the narrow crossings and where the banks were stable like where the river/ gorge bank has rock outcrops would be preferable.



History and Development of Bridges in Kenya




The Nyali Bridge was a floating pontoon bridge linking Mombasa Island to the Kenyan mainland. The bridge linked the Mzizima district of Mombasa to Nyali, and was built in 1931.
In 1980, the bridge was superseded by the New Nyali Bridge (located approximately 0.55 miles (0.89 km) to the north), leaving the steel bridge to be dismantled for scrap.



1931 - Nyali Floating Bridge

1958 - Mtwapa Suspension Bridge (toll bridge) but the ferry remained operational file:///C:/Users/ebrahim/Downloads/MtwapaBridgeAct42of1959.pdf

Kilifi Bridge….1991.

1980 - Nyali concrete bridge built
Mtwapa Concrete Bridge 1980

Both bridges can be viewed, new one under construction in the distance whilst old one still in use...

Kenya has got rid of the old Nyali Bridge that could still have served a purpose, Kenya has had a new infrastructure in terms of its Chinese Railways, they could have easily salvaged all its old discarded Railways and put into use all round the country. A simple route would have been from Mombasa’s old railways station to Makupa Causeway and onto the mainland and fanning out towards Port Ritz and beyond heading towards, Mtongwe, Likoni and Tanga…

Mtwapa Bridge

Mtwapa Creek Ferry early 1950s-

Picture shows two vehicles being ferried across Mtwapa Creek on the Mombasa-Malindi Road some 10 miles north of Mombasa. According to native legend the Creek, the local name of which is Shimo la Tawa (Hole of the Rock Cod), is the haunt of a giant man-eating rock cod. At the crossing place the creek is spanned by a chain which passes over pulleys at either end of the ferryboat. To effect a crossing a group of six to eight ferrymen travelling on the boat haul on the chain and so pull the boat across. Date: 1 January 1952


Click on Photo for more on Mtwapa Bridge
Click above

Built some time ago, Mtwapa Bridge was built in 1958 and largely replaced the "singing ferry". , there was agreement between the government and the company that if the government was to take over this bridge it was to wait eight years before taking over, and then give notice of one year if they intended to do so accordingly to the agreement; the eight year period will end in the middle of 1966. Then the government should be in a position to take over the bridge if found to be appropriate to do so. The Bridge at Mtwapa , if we take it over, would cost something like £130,000.00 and about £5,000.00 for running the Bridge if the Government takes it over.

Kilifi Bridge

Click above for more on Kilifi Bridge

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