By Francis Kagolo
The construction of the second bridge across River Nile in Jinja, will commence in December this year and be complete in 2016, the works and transport minister Abraham Byandala has said.
The new bridge, which will be erected a few kilometres from the old one, is to stand 80m high and span 525m long with dual lanes, Byandala said.
Under the $120m (about sh295b) project, a 1.1km of dual lane approach roads will also be constructed together with three junctions.
Byandala said the new bridge will improve transport on the Northern Corridor Route which links Uganda and its landlocked neighbours Burundi, Rwanda and eastern DRC to Kenya.
The minister made the disclosure while addressing visiting Japanese royals, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko as they toured the site where the new bridge is to be constructed on Thursday.
The Prince is on a three-day tour of Japan-funded projects in Uganda. The Japanese government provided a concessional loan of $100m of the $120m needed for the new bridge’s construction.
The Prince and his wife spent some time studying the architectural design of the new bridge before laying the foundation stone for its construction project.
He then took a boat ride to watch the source of the world’s longest river, Nile, a marvellous tourist attraction in Jinja, eastern Uganda.
The construction of the new bridge comes at a time when the old one had started wearing down due to the ever increasing traffic from Kenya into Uganda and excessive overloading.
Completed in 1954, the old bridge has served for close to 60 years now. However, the new bridge is estimated to last at least 100 years.
Byandala said the Government had finished securing all land required for the construction and that the work was were already under tendering process.
He said the reliability of the Northern Corridor Route is important to support regional trade.
Besides, the bridge is also expected to boost tourism because of its picturesque features and strategic location to the source of the Nile.
Byandala said Uganda relies on the road network for the movement of over 95% of its goods and passengers.
“Therefore, a sound road transport infrastructure is critical to achieve the national aspiration of a strong, private sector-led growth that contributes to economic development and poverty reduction.”
Byandala applauded the Japanese royals for visiting Uganda, saying it was an indicator of the success and effectiveness of the partnership that have existed between the two nations over the past 50 years.
He commended Japan for continuously supporting Uganda’s efforts geared towards achieving economic development.
The Japanese ambassador in Uganda, K. Minagawa, said the new Nile Bridge would spur economic development not only in Uganda but across the entire east Africa.
The function was attended by lands minister Daudi Migereko, state minister for gender Rukia Nakadama and Eng. Peter Ssebanakitta, executive director of the National Roads Authority.