Bridge valued at $12m collapses just two weeks after it was inspected during a presidential visit

RESIDENTS of western Kenya have been left flabbergasted after a $12m bridge recently inspected by President Uhuru Kenyatta suddenly collapsed just two weeks after it was hailed as an example of the country's future.


Being constructed by the Chinese Overseas Construction and Engineering Company, the bridge in Kenya’s Budalang’i Constituency near the border with Uganda, collapsed a fortnight after President Kenyatta inspected it. Its construction was approved after a tragic event on August 30, 2014, when 11 people perished after a boat they had boarded capsized, killing everyone on board as they attempted to cross the river.


One of the victims of the boat capsize was Brian Juma, a Junior Secondary School 3 student whose burial, among other victims, was attended by President Kenyatta who then promised that a bridge would be constructed to avert such deaths. So far, the cause of the recent collapse is yet unknown, although it is suspected that 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. But for the current mishap, the project was expected to be completed by the end of July.


Mr Hua said: “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 three kilometres for both the northern and southern parts.”

During President Kenyatta’s tour, local MP Ababu Namwamba said the bridge was a blessing to residents since it would significantly reduce deaths by drowning 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.