President Museveni has today commissioned the The Source of the Nile Bridge which is estimated to have cost $125 million.
The new bridge will reduce the heavy traffic that passes through the old Nalubaale Bridge, which was built in 1954.
Addressing the media shortly before its commissioning, Uganda National Roads Authority Executive Director Allen Kagina said there is excitement, joy and satisfaction because they are giving Ugandans a very nice bridge.
The 525m long cable-stayed bridge is the second of its kind in East Africa after Tanzania’s 680m-long Kigamboni Bridge.
In Africa, The Source of the Nile Bridge is the fifth longest cable-stayed bridge after Suez Canal Bridge (3,900) in Egypt, Lekki Ikoyi Bridge (1,360m) in Nigeria, Mohammed VI Bridge (950m) in Morocco and Tanzania’s Kigamboni.
In November 2013, Uganda National Roads Authority awarded the construction contract to Japan’s Zenitaka Corporation of and South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company.
Construction was expected to last four years. On 28 January 2014, President Museveni launched the bridge construction.
As of August 2017, the bridge contractors revealed that the construction was 40 per cent complete.
During an inspection tour of the construction site by the Japanese ambassador to Uganda, the contractors revealed that they had started using steel from an unnamed Ugandan manufacturer after the product met the contractors’ standards.
The bridge has a “roadside station” or service centre on the Jinja side, which will host a restaurant, supermarket, public toilets, and an exhibition area.
The station will also accommodate a chamber for bridge maintenance, security and an emergency response unit.
The development also calls for surface roads on the Njeru side to connect to (a) the Nyenga-Njeru Road(b) the proposed Kampala–Jinja Expressway (c) the existing Kampala–Jinja Highway and the Mukono–Kayunga–Njeru Road. Road connections to the town of Jinja will be constructed, east of the road service centre.
As of 28 September 2018, the major physical construction had concluded. Minor electrical and surface markings remained, with official commissioning of the completed bridge planned for 17 October 2018.
The total cost of The Source of the Nile Bridge was budgeted at US$125 million with the government of Japan financing 80 per cent, in form of a soft loan of US$100 million at an annual interest rate of 0.01 per cent, repayable in 10 years but extendable to 40 years.
The government of Uganda would fund the remaining US$25 million (20 per cent), out of its own coffers.
In March 2018, the Ugandan Parliament authorized a supplementary loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), amounting to Shs 133 billion or US$36.721, to complete the project.
The cost of construction was quoted at US$112 million (Shs41.1 billion) and has a projected lifespan of 120 years. The bridge is insured by Britam.
BY EDNA K MWESIGYE