Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango has advised people around Wovwe in the area of senior chief Mwilang’ombe in Karonga district to plant trees along Chimbiriri river banks to check siltation which contributes to the washing away of the bridge during rainy season.
The Minister made the remarks when he officially launched the rehabilitation works of the bridge which is partly broken and poses great danger to both pedestrians and motorists that use the road from Wovwe irrigation scheme to the main road.
Mhango said the bridge is the backbone of the economic affairs of the area since people use the road to transport the rare and much sought after Kirombero rice to various markets.
“As a caring government we realise challenges that come when a bridge is in a bad shape like this. This is a death trap to even school going children from both sides of the road. That is why we have decided to rehabilitate the bridge before the rain season begins,” Mhango said.
Mhango further said when the bridge is in bad state even patients are affected more especially expectant mothers.
The Minister bemoaned the wanton cutting down of trees in the area by charcoal burners who have greatly contributed to the degradation of forest cover in the area, saying this has in turn affected the water flow of the river.
“These other problems that we face are handmade and they also need handmade solutions. We need to afforest this area including the river banks if we are to control the flow of the river to avoid a recurrence of situations like this,” the Minister said.
The minister however, was optimistic that the rehabilitation works of the reinforced concrete bridge will be completed within the 90 days period so that the quality should not be compromised.
Speaking for the implementing agency Roads Authority, the acting director of maintenance engineer Florence Ndenguma assured the government that her organisation will make sure that the project is done in such a way that it meets the required durable engineering standards.
She said despite running water in the river her organisation will use technical methods to divert the flow of water to enable engineers do their job.
“Let me assure the general public and the government that the contractor will first of all pump the water to the other side of the river and do the job so that it should be durable,” Ndenguma said.
The contractor for the 30 meter bridge is Chrystaline Civil Engineering and is being funded by Malawi government through fuel levy at a total projected cost close to K45-million and is expected to be completed in November this year.
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