The construction of a dual carriage bridge aimed at enhancing transportation of cargo between Uganda and Kenya has commenced at Malaba border in eastern Uganda. The European Union is funding the construction of the bridge projected to cost Ksh3.8b (about sh119b).
Maltauro and H. Young construction companies have been contracted to build the bridge. Rogard Karani, the H Young site engineer on Tuesday explained that the initial phase of the construction started in January and will last six months. The new bridge comes with a tarmac 1km road that will stretch from Kenya customs department to Uganda.
"At present, we are laying the metallic ground foundation and building columns that will support the bridge. Thereafter, Maltauro firm will take over the construction of the top slab for the bridge and the road," Karani said. The dual carriage bridge will replace the current single carriage one. The existing bridge was built by the British in 1961. It is now old and incapable of sustaining the increasing cargo traffic from Kenya destined to Uganda and neighbouring landlocked countries.
Geoffrey Balamaga, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) eastern regional manager said the new bridge would ease the flow and clearance of cargo trucks at Malaba. "On average, Malaba border clears more than 700 cargo trucks entering the country daily and 500 export cargo trucks. Due to the narrowness of the old bridge, we are forced to clear one truck at a time. With the completion of the new bridge, we will be able to access more trucks and speed up clearance," Balamaga explained.
Truck drivers are equally excited about the new bridge and road. James Moturi, a truck driver said: "the road stretching from Kenya customs department to Uganda is riddled with potholes. Cargo trucks often get stuck in these portholes. This raises the cost of repairs for our trucks. The new road will relieve us of this challenge."