South Africa: Fifteen-Year Wait for Kwanobuhle Bridge Finally Over

24 January 2020

Construction underway on a new bridge where dozens of learners cross river daily

The long wait for a new bridge in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage is finally over for learners and residents who for years have been crossing the treacherous river bed.

The bridge over the river collapsed in 2005 after heavy rains and has never been rebuilt. Now, 15 years later construction on a new bridge is underway.

In August 2018, GroundUp reported how many school children walk across this rugged, vacant land from KwaNobuhle to the Solomon Mahlangu High School crossing where the bridge collapsed. To walk using the nearest existing bridges is a much longer route.

In July 2019, dozens of learners and parents protested, demanding that the bridge be rebuilt. A municipal official at the time said the municipality had R700,000 for the construction of a new bridge but that was not enough.

On Wednesday, GroundUp visited the site at the riverbed where pathways had been cleared around the bridge and construction work appeared to be underway. This year, MMC for Roads and Transport Rosie Daaminds noted that this project would be prioritised in their budget.

Luzuko Ndamse, community liaison officer for the construction project, said he could not confirm the exact cost of the project. He said, "We don't even have a plan, no construction billboards indicating that work is taking place. Children are still crossing here and we don't know when this project will be completed." Ndamse said ten workers were on site to redirect water from the river to allow for construction work to take place.

Resident Vuyani Hermans said, "This is better than nothing. We used to take transport and pay R10 to Khayelitsha from KwaNobuhle, but we will be able to cross the bridge free of charge".

Ward 44 Councillor Nomsa Booi said she could not respond to questions about the bridge yet but confirmed that the project was underway. "We are working on it. We are also thankful for this project." Booi added that without consistent reports by GroundUp on the issue "we would have still been stuck".

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