Africa-Press – Uganda. The Uganda National Roads Authority, (Unra) has said the reconstruction of a bridge over River Ssezibwa, which was washed away after heavy rains in 2019, is not its responsibility.
Speaking to Sunday Monitor on Thursday, the Unra spokesperson, Mr Allan Ssempebwa, said Unra engineers conducted an inspection and confirmed that the bridge located on the Kyampisi-Kabimbiri road is not on the network of roads and bridges under Unra jurisdiction.
“We have no budget for the restoration of that bridge because it is not on our network,” Mr Ssempebwa said. After the bridge on the Kyampisi-Kabimbiri road, which connects Mukono and Kayunga districts, was washed away, local leaders made repeated calls to Unra and the government to rebuild it in vain.
This compelled residents to construct a makeshift bridge over the river using eucalyptus poles and timber.Mr Badru Kafumbe, the outgoing Kasawo Sub-county chairperson, said most of the poles that were used to construct the bridge are decomposing after being submerged in water, adding that the rickety bridge is on the verge of collapse.
“We appealed to both the district authorities and Unra to reconstruct the bridge but nothing has materialised,” Mr Kafumbe said.
“As a sub-county, our budget is very small, so we cannot afford to take up such a big project that requires more than Shs500m,” he added.
He said the road, which hitherto acted as a short-cut for motorists, especially produce buyers from Kayunga and other parts of Mukono, is now impassable for motorists.
Mr James Nkata, the Mukono District chief administrative officer, said: “Studies show that the bridge to be constructed across the river should be like the one over River Ssezibwa on the Kayunga-Mukono highway.”
He added: “As a district, we don’t have the funds to reconstruct that bridge. Even if we use all the funds we receive from the central government to build the bridge, it cannot be enough.”
Mr Nkata said they are in a dilemma and called upon the government to come to their rescue.Mr Ssempebwa, however, said there is a formal process the district can go through and ask the Ministry of Works and Transport to take over the reconstruction of the bridge.
The section of the bridge that was washed away has fast-moving waters measuring about 60 metres wide.Mr Dan Nsiiro, the Munkoko Village chairperson, said since the old bridge collapsed in 2019, at least eight people have drowned as they tried to cross the river.
“Majority of the victims are strangers in the area. They were riding motorcycles at night and were not aware that the bridge had been washed away. Seven bodies of the victims were retrieved, but one is still missing, together with the motorcycle he was riding,” Mr Nsiiro said.
Mr Julius Lubowa, a resident, said they charge all cyclists who use the bridge Shs1,000.