Traffic on the Mbarara- Kasese route has been diverted after it was discovered that the Kazinga Channel Bridge was damaged.
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has advised motorists heading to Kasese District to use alternative routes as the bridge would be closed to traffic with immediate effect.
“UNRA wishes to inform the general public that the bridge deck for Kazinga Channel Bridge on Ishaka—Katunguru—Kasese road has been damaged and the bridge will be closed to traffic immediately,” the notice reads in part.
Mark Ssali, the Head of Public and Corporate Affairs at UNRA confirmed the closure.
“Yes, that road has been closed at the bridge, our engineers asked us to release a public notice,” Ssali said on phone.
Asked about the extent of the damage and how long the repairs would take, Ssali said, the engineers are still assessing the damage and will be able tell after the process.
However, Hassan Ozoo, a driver and frequent user of the road revealed that, “there is a metal in the middle of the bridge and between it there is a big hole where one can easily pass through and drop into the water as it goes on expanding. It will expose drivers and passengers to accidents.”
UNRA has advised road users especially of heavy trucks and buses to use alternative routes.
“For traffic bound from Kampala to Mpondwe; use Kampala—Fort Portal—Kasese—Mpondwe route, for traffic from Kampala to Ishasha; travel via Mbarara—Ishaka—Ishasha route, for traffic from Kasese to Mbarara; use Kasese—Fort Portal—Kamwenge— Ibanda—Mbarara route.”
The 32 kilometer Kazinga Channel links Lake Edward and Lake George and is a dominant feature of Queen Elizabeth National Park which attracts several tourists.
Several taxis, buses and heavy trucks cross the bridge daily.
Ronald Kagumire, one of the taxi drivers on Mbarara-Kasese road said they can’t use the Kamwenge route, but will drop the passengers at the bridge where they will find other means of transport across.
“We shall be taking passengers from Mbarara up to Katunguru bridge on Rubirizi side and they cross by the bridge by foot and connect with the waiting taxis for Kasese across the bridge and vice versa.”
So far no passengers have been reported as stranded on either side as most of the taxis to Mbarara had already left Kasese taxi park by the time the bridge was closed.