Thursday February 15 2018

Avert looming tragedy on Arua hanging bridge

Poor state.  Residents cross  Aji Bridge  in

Poor state. Residents cross Aji Bridge in Upper Madi Okollo County, Arua District. PHOTO BY FELIX WAROM OKELLO 

By Editor

Tragedy is looming large in the countryside of Arua unless the government intervenes urgently. The story of the broken Aji Bridge in Offaka in Madi Okolo in Arua is a sad and worrying scenario. The bridge collapsed or was swept away due to heavy rains about eight years ago, but to-date, it has not been reconstructed. Life has become harder and risky for residents who have no convenient alternative route to Arua Town or other destinations for businesses and other activities.
The bridge is the only route that takes patients and pregnant mothers for medical care at the government’s health centre at Offaka. It’s also a route for hundreds of pupils and students who cross the menacing waters at the broken bridge every day as they go to or return from school.
What passes for a bridge today is now a structure of wooden logs loosely joined together by nails courtesy of desperate residents.
The bridge can’t accommodate a truck or any vehicle except a light boda-boda (motorcycle), which has now become the only viable means of transport. But its limitations in tonnage has made doing business very hard for local traders.
A bodaboda cannot carry bulky merchandise and for that reason, it has proved astronomically expensive for traders to use for transporting their goods to or from Arua Town.
For eight years, patients, expectant mothers, school children and other travellers have endured this dilemma and risked their lives and property by daring into the raging waters, especially during rainy seasons.
Whether it’s the responsibility of the Uganda National Roads Authority or the district administration, the relevant authorities have slept on the job. They are waiting to wake up after a tragedy has struck when school children have been swallowed up by the hostile waters.
How can a part of a community be cut off from the rest of the country for eight years on account of a broken bridge and nothing is done and the local or central government believe it’s business as usual? Whoever is responsible should make urgent intervention before this river claims human lives.
The people of Offaka Sub-county deserve better. They are taxpayers and therefore entitled to service delivery or safe water transport.
It’s even surprising that the area Member of Parliament has not made noise about the suffering of his people in order to force government to intervene. Has he also been sleeping or slept on the job?

The issue: State of Aji Bridge

Our view: How can a part of a community be cut off from the rest of the country for eight years on account of a broken bridge and nothing is done and the local or central government believe it’s business as usual?

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