Rwanda to build over 350 pedestrian bridges to get communities out of isolation

Residents of Muhanga district, Cyeza sector crossing Makurungwe River to Muhanga sector, with the use of the newly constructed bridge. /Courtesy.

Two pedestrian bridges were on Thursday 3 September launched in Muhanga District, making them the first of the 355 bridges that government in partnership with Bridge to Prosperity (B2P), an international NGO,  have agreed to build in the next five years.

B2P has been building pedestrian bridges in partnership with districts in Rwanda for the past six years, resulting into 54 bridges that were built in 19 districts to serve over 300,000 people.

In March 2019, the Government represented by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Local Government and B2P signed a Memorandum of Understanding to eradicate isolation of communities; which is considered as one of the root causes of poverty in rural communities.

The construction of these bridges is expected to create approximately 10,000 temporary jobs and 50 full-time jobs, which the Government says is line with the first phase of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST 1).

NST1 targets to create 1.5 million decent and productive jobs by 2024.

In the first year of the programme, 40 bridges will be built in eight districts, namely: Nyaruguru ,Nyamagabe ,Nyamasheke ,Karongi ,Ngororero ,Rutsiro ,Gakenke and Muhanga.

The two bridges constructed that were launched in Muhanga district; one connects Cyeza and Muhanga sectors, and another one connects Biringaga and Shori cell (in Cyeza sector) are expected to benefit more than 8000 people, including 218 primary school students.

Residents welcome the act

Damascene Sezibera is a resident of Cyeza sector in Muhanga district since the year 2000, he says that lack of sustainable bridges was a burden to them.

“Makurungwe River that separates us from Muhanga sector (which is home to almost all infrastructure in this area) could over-flood in the rainy season and hinder our children from going to school and some of us couldn’t go to the market either,” he said.

Sezibera added that: “Lack of sustainable bridges also led to loss of lives, where so far 7 people fell in Makurungwe River and died.”

Innocent Kayiranga, the Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development in Muhanga district also reiterated that the district leadership would always be called to the area over issues faced by the community emanating from the overflooding of this river. 

Partnership was key 

The two bridges are worth about Rwf83 million; B2P contributed 65% and Muhanga district 35% of the amount.

“We couldn’t have achieved this without the help of different Ministries and Government institutions. There are even other volunteers who helped us with their skills so as to amount to this,” Hannis Whittam, Rwanda Programme Director in B2P, said in his address at the occasion.

Hannis added that “We trained people who will be always available if in any case these bridges get a problem. They will be here to help.”

Kayiranga noted that residents “should take care of these facilities, and make sure that no one destroys any of them.”

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