Can cable cars offer transport solutions in African cities

Can cable cars offer transport solutions in African cities?

Cable cars or rope ways are like a beautiful girl who fails get a man to marry her. Everyone knows they are beautiful but no man is willing to commit. Most know her beauty, they talk about it openly, she has some good qualities, she is not materialistic ( expensive) but she remains single. The story of cable cars has been around since around 1908 when the first was built. It’s not until the 1970s that modern cable cars were introduced and recommended a mode of transport.

There are a few companies engaged in manufacturing and installation most of which are in Europe. Cable cars have been touted as a cheaper option to solve transportation challenges especially in developing cities. In 2014, Doppelmayr, the leading manufacturer of cable cars based in Germany approached KCCA with an enticing proposal to build a cable car transport system in the city to supplement minibus taxis. The then executive director, Jennifer Musisi was almost convinced; by the company and infact gave a no-objection to the project.

On the face of it, cable cars are the best alternative in transporting people in the city. However digging deeper into their history and operations in areas that have had them, you will notice that they are not as great as the manufacturers would want the public to believe. Currently it costs an average of $20 million to construct a Kilometer of a rope way system. Besides, one of their limitations is that they do not cover very long distances. The longest cable car system in the world is found in China and covers a distance of only 7kms. Most rope ways cover much less like two to three kilometers. This means that in Kampala city for instance, a ropeway would be established to; pick passengers at Wandegeya and drop them at city square or from Wampewo roundabout on Jinja road up to city square.

The advantage of ropeways are that they are easy to build, easy to maintain, are environmentally friendly and use less energy. Cable cars have been a bit popular in South America, but even then, they mainly serve tourist and not as a major public transport. Like the beautiful girl, no body exactly knows why the world has not fully embraced cable cars in spite of their perceived advantages.