Thuchila Bridge at Nkando Trading Centre in Mulanje along Robert Mugabe Highway, a very vital link to Mulanje and Phalombe Districts that developed serious faults and was on the verge of collapsing, has been successfully repaired within two weeks by Katakwe Civil Engineering Contractors.
One of the bridge’s main steel supports was heavily crashed by a speeding commuter minibus causing it to shift a bit off its foundation and since it was not noticeable enough at first both heavy and light vehicles continued to ply the bridge until it started to sag and shake.
The public on Thursday, March 23 then noticed the sagging when they went under the bridge and they posted pictures of the serious damage on social media to alert the authorities.
The Roads Authority RA moved swiftly to inspect on same day and contacted its Southern Region emergency maintenance contractor Katakwe Civil Engineering for inspection and evaluation and by Saturday, March 25, a decision was made to just enforce the bridge with more steel on the runway since the bridge’s foundation at the river bottom was intact and capable to survive a further lifespan.
Katakwe Civil Engineering Director Stanley Brown Gwaza said they started excavation works that same Saturday and in five days time the re-enforcement was complete and confidently said the bridge is capable to carry up to 30 tonne trucks as was the case before.
He said the road was closed off that same Thursday and traffic was diverted to an already existing access road at the trading centre that connects to the Thyolo-Mulanje road just near the Mulhakho wa aLhomwe headquarters.
The bridge already had pedestrians’ walkway on both sides but one was blocked off to accommodate the massive re-enforcement steel and wood planks.
Gwaza said they couldn’t create a proper diversion for the pedestrians and the many motor cyclists and bicycle cyclists who ply the area as taxis because water levels of the Thuchila River kept rising because of heavy rains upstream and as such all had to make do of the single walkway and it became such a hurdle for them on market days at Nkando Trading Centre.
“But when we completed laying the steel and planks and we were doing final touches, we allowed pedestrians to use the rehabilitated main runway on such market days,” he said.
“The locals have been very cooperative and understanding, rightly so because this bridge is their daily livelihood,” he said.
He said that if the public had not noticed the cracks and sagging in time, a disaster was imminent because on the first day he and RA inspected the damage they discovered that it seriously shook even by just a single person stepping on the faulty area.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :