The ongoing reconstruction of Aderema-Kwapa bridge, which connects Tororo to the neighbouring districts in Bugisu sub-region, is poised to accelerate informal trade by linking traders and locals to various markets when completed.
The bridge, found in Kwapa Sub-county in Tororo District, bordering Manafwa District, was washed away by floods last year.
The construction is being undertaken by Tororo District with support from Uganda Road Fund at a cost of Shs50m.
The reconstruction is scheduled to be completed within one month, according to officials.
The bridge acts as an essential route for supply of goods and services to towns and trading centres that it connects.
“This bridge acts as an essential source of livelihood for families on both sides but it had been ignored,” Mr Fredrick Emojong, a resident of Tororo, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday.
Mr Emojong said when the bridge collapsed last year, they started facing difficulties in accessing social services in the neighbouring districts.
“It has been a nightmare. We could not access social services on the other side and we couldn’t also trade easily due to accessibility challenges,” he said.
Ms Rose Mary Amojong, another resident, said reconstruction of the bridge is a relief to the people of Kwapa, especially women.
“You can imagine transport costs increased from Shs1,000 to Shs10,000 to reach the health facility in the neighbouring district,” she lamented.
Mr Michael Mushikori, a trader dealing in matooke and a resident of Lwanjusi Village in Manafwa District, said he had abandoned his business due to high transport costs to the markets.
“The profit that I used to earn was wiped out because most of it went into transport and this forced me out of the business,” he said.
Mr Mushikori said with the reconstruction of the bridge, he will resume business. “I am happy that the government has finally considered reconstructing this bridge. It is my appeal that the process is expedited,” he said.
Mr Francis Onyadi Abulu, the Kwapa Sub-county chairperson, said the local revenue of the sub-county had also been affected due to the broken bridge because most of the taxpayers come from the districts of Manafwa, Mbale and Namisindwa.
He said access to social services, especially health services, had also dropped because of poor accessibility to the health centres.
The district superintendent of works, Mr Andrew Asaya, said the bridge was washed away because it was poorly designed.
He added that besides the ongoing reconstruction of the bridge, the district is also gravelling several kilometres of the same road using an emergency response fund amounting to Shs50 million.