Locals protest shoddy works on bridge

Locals stand near Nambale Bridge on the Mbale-Tororo road at the weekend. The bridge is under repair after it was damaged by floods in August. PHOTO/FRED WAMBEDE

What you need to know:

  • Leaders say the rehabilitation works have not catered for the widening of the bridge and its drainage channels.

Residents and local leaders in Mbale District have protested the ongoing rehabilitation of Nambale bridge, saying the works are shoddy and pose a threat to motorists.
The bridge, which is situated on the Mbale-Tororo road, commonly known as the Great North Road, was damaged by floods after River Nambale burst its banks in August.

Mr Davis Wakane, the former minister of lands in the Bamasaba Cultural Institution, who led the protests at the weekend, said the rehabilitation works have not taken into consideration the need to widen the bridge and its drainage channels.
He said bags loaded with poor aggregate materials are being used to reconstruct the highway bridge. 
“This road is used by many heavy vehicles and trucks from various destinations, including Kenya, Sudan and the DR Congo, but the work being done is a true sign of negligence,” Mr Wakane said.

But the contract engineer, Mr Jackson Nawaswa, said whatever is being done is an emergency intervention to allow a continuous flow of traffic.
“This is an emergency intervention to hold the soil from moving, the bridge will be demolished and a new one will be constructed,” he said.
In a September 9 petition to the Prime Minister, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, which this publication has seen, the locals asked her to intervene and ensure quality work is done.
“This bridge was constructed in the colonial era when there were few vehicles and heavy-duty goods were transported by railway,” the letter reads in part.

Mr Samuel Watulatsu, a social entrepreneur, said whenever it rains heavily, the bridge floods due to its narrow tunnel.
“We kindly ask the government to work on the bridge. I lost a lot of property, including animals, as a result of the floods,” Mr Watulatsu said.
In a related development, locals have expressed worry over cracks that have developed on Nabuyonga bridge, which was also damaged by floods.
The bridge that is on the Mbale-Soroti road is succumbing to pressure piled on it by heavy trucks, according to the leaders.
Mr David Were, a retired civil engineer, said the bridge was supposed to accommodate light trucks.
“The bridge cannot handle heavy trucks. We need to rehabilitate it to a better standard,” he said.

Old bridge
The Mbale Resident City Commissioner, Mr Ahamada Washaki, who inspected the bridge at the weekend, said it has outlived its usefulness.
“I have been informed that plans are underway to reconstruct the bridge. The contractor that is working on the Tororo-Mbale highway is expected to do the work,’’ he said.
 The manager for Uganda National Roads Authority in Mbale, Ms Dianah Nakombe, said they are aware of the problem of the cracks on the bridge, adding that they will work on it soon.