BY Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto
The government has secured about Shs 8.2billion to construct a major bridge over river Kochi that connects Yumbe district to South Sudan.
Dynaco Engineering has been contracted to carry out the construction work for a duration of three years.
Speaking during the handover of the site to the contractor yesterday, Rashid Kawawa, the local council three chairman of Lori sub-county said it had been a long awaited project for the community. He said the community had been facing a lot of challenges in crossing the river due to poor state of the bridge.
“This bridge has been a bottle neck for us in terms of the socio economic growth of the region because it’s a busy road that connects to South Sudan, big markets, schools and health facilities but accessibility of such places has been a problem,” he said.
“We appreciate the government for listening to our prayer because the pressure the community has been putting on the sub county and district leaders was too much.”
Lawrence Pariyo, the engineer in-charge of bridges and structures at Uganda National Roads Authority(UNRA) said, the works of the bridge would start with surveying of the area including the design which would take around eight months and the actual construction of the permanent bridge would take two and a half years.
He said the bridge would be ten metres wide and thirty metres long.
“The bridge will have a lifespan of 100years so this will be a permanent bridge. This will enhance safety and efficient movement of goods but caution the contractor to ensure that they deliver a good product,” Pariyo said.
He said, in the meantime, the contractor would do the maintenance of the existing bridge so that it could be usable until the new one is completed.
Godfrey Onzima, amember of parliament for Aringa North constituency said, Kochi bridge was a huge bridge because it connected Yumbe to South Sudan.
“Most of the refugees who have settled in Bidibidi refugee settlement were ferried through this bridge and it’s one of the oldest bridges in West Nile which remained on timber for a long period of time. Since the bridge is on the road maintained by UNRA, in the long run, we have an ambition that one day, the road should be tarmacked because it leads to the border of South Sudan”, he said.
Mr Abdulmutwalib Asiku the Yumbe district chairperson said prioritising the construction of Kochi bridge this financial year is a very big milestone for the people of Yumbe district because there are over 500 bridges to be constructed in the country.
“We have for several times registered shoddy works in such projects but my appeal to the contractor is that the specifications in the bill of quantity, designs and what has been agreed must be respected including the project duration”, he said.
He urged the local community around the project area to cooperate and give the necessary support in terms of security, mobilization of the local materials and any other support the contractor might need from them.
Mr Mahazin Dragule, a resident of the area said: “Many people have lost lives, goods in this river and some vehicles plunged into this river because of the poor state of the bridge. We thank the government for this intervention which will save us”.