Two pedestrian bridges were on Thursday, October 3 launched in Muhanga District, making them the first of the 355 bridges that government, in partnership with Bridge to Prosperity (B2P), an international NGO, have agreed to construct in the next five years.
B2P has been building pedestrian bridges in partnership with districts across the country for the past six years, resulting into 54 bridges in 19 districts to serve over 300,000 people.
In March 2019, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Local Government, and B2P signed a Memorandum of Understanding to eradicate isolation of communities, considered as one of the root causes of poverty in rural communities.
The construction of the bridges is expected to create approximately 10,000 temporary jobs and 50 full-time jobs, which the Government says is line with the first phase of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST 1).
NST1 targets to create 1.5 million decent and productive jobs by 2024.
In the first year of the programme, 40 bridges will be built in eight districts, namely: Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe, Nyamasheke, Karongi, Ngororero, Rutsiro, Gakenke and Muhanga.
The two bridges constructed that were launched in Muhanga District; one connecting Cyeza and Muhanga sectors, and the other Biringaga and Shori cell (in Cyeza sector), are expected to benefit more than 8000 people, including 218 primary school students.
Residents welcome the act
Damascene Sezibera, a resident of Cyeza sector since the year 2000, said that lack of sustainable bridges was a burden to them.
"Makurungwe River that separates us from Muhanga sector (which is home to almost all infrastructure in this area) was always flooded in the rainy season and it could hinder children from going to school and some of us couldn't go to the market either," he said.
Sezibera added that: "Lack of sustainable bridges also led to loss of lives, adding that seven fell in Makurungwe River and died."
Innocent Kayiranga, the Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development in Muhanga, said that the district leadership would always be called to the area over issues faced by the community emanating from the overflooding of the river.
The two bridges are worth about Rwf83 million; B2P contributed 65% and Muhanga district 35% of the amount.
"We couldn't have achieved this without the help of different Government institutions. There are even other volunteers who helped us with their skills," Hannis Whittam, Rwanda Programme Director in B2P, said in his address at the occasion.
Hannis added that, "We trained people who will be always available in any case these bridges develop a problem. They will be here to help."
Kayiranga noted that residents "should take care of these facilities, and make sure that no one destroys them."