By Gaitano Pessa
Kisumu — A bridge in Kenya’s Budalang’i Constituency near the border with Uganda has collapsed a fortnight after President Uhuru Kenyatta inspected it.
The $12 million (Sh1.2 billion) Sigiri Bridge, in Budalang’i Constituency, Busia County, was being constructed by the Chinese Overseas Construction and Engineering Company.
The cause of the collapse was yet to be known, though it was suspected the construction was hurriedly done ahead of the president’s visit.
During the inspection, Project Manager Jerome Xzue Hua said they were focusing their attention on the concrete slab and embankment.
“We did not focus much on road construction on the northern side because the most critical point of construction is the bridge’s slab.
“We expect to complete the bitumen work at the end of June for the entire 3 kilometres for both the northern and southern parts,” he had said.
The project was expected to be completed by end of July.
The bridge is to link Bunyala North and South wards across River Nzoia.
On August 30, 2014, 11 people perished after a boat they had boarded capsized, killing everyone on board as they attempted to cross the river.
Was a blessing
Among those who perished was Brian Juma, a Form Three student whose burial, among other victims, was attended by President Kenyatta who promised that a bridge would be constructed to avert such deaths.
During President Kenyatta’s tour, area MP Ababu Namwamba said the bridge was a blessing to residents since it would significantly reduce deaths and make it easier for people to access markets, schools and hospitals on either side.
Mr Namwamba has been using the bridge as a campaign tool for his re-election for a third term and even broke ranks with opposition chief Raila Odinga to join forces with President Kenyatta through his Labour Party of Kenya.