Sironko — Government has launched the reconstruction of three bridges on the national network in the eastern part of the country worth Shs37.6 billion.
The strategic bridges to be built include Sironko bridge on the Mbale- Sironko Road in Sironko District, which has since developed cracks on steel girders.
Others include Kibimba Bridge on Jinja-Tororo highway in Bugiri District, which has deformed on the abutments, and Chololo Bridge on Chosan-Amudat Road in Amudat District, which was damaged last year following a downpour.
The old bridges, which were constructed before the 1970s, will be replaced with new ones with a lifespan of 100 years.
Mr Stephen Kiwalabye, the project engineer, working in the department of bridges and structures in Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), said during the site hand over of Sironko Bridge in Namombe Village in Bukiise Sub-county at the weekend that the condition of the bridges had deteriorated due to age, increasing traffic loads and poor maintenance.
"These bridges need to be reconstructed to meet the current and forecast traffic demands," Mr Kiwalabye said.
The construction of the bridges, which commenced on March 1, will be undertaken by Terrain Service Ltd within three years.
Mr Kiwalabye said the scope of work will include hydrological studies, hydraulic designs, topographic surveys, geo-technical investigations and demolition of existing structures.
Mr Paul Waswa, the quality surveyor, working with Terrain Service Ltd, said the old bridges had become a threat to the lives of road users.
Mr Eria Magumba, the chief administrative officer of Sironko District, said: "This highway handles huge loads of traffic and due to that, fresh cracks had started developing and the old ones widening," he said.
Mr Magumba said the road is busy and used to ferry, among other things, limestone and other minerals from Karamoja and Sebei sub-regions to the different parts of the country.
He said the road is also used by tourists visiting sites such as Mt Elgon National Park and Sipi Falls. The Member of Parliament, Budadiri East in Sironko, Mr Vincent Waboyo, applauded the government and said reconstruction of the bridges will foster economic growth.
The deputy Resident District Commissioner of Sironko District, Mr George Malunda, urged the contractor to work with local leadership to ensure that the project does not delay.