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A section of the Goye Bridge. Residents now live in fear as the bridge sinks. Photo[Isaiah Gwengi].
A rapid and gentle breeze descends down the lake, rustling the majestic papyrus reeds and the lush vegetation.

The deep blue lake seems to fall off the horizon. Isaya Onyango, a resident of Usalo village in Siaya County, is lost in thoughts as he watches the waters hit against the stones lining parts of the shore.

He glances up as dark clouds start to gather. It has been raining heavily in the last few days, and the area is prone to flooding.

“We are disturbed by the ongoing rains because we suffered in 1962 when floods displaced more than 100 families. We fear the rains might trigger another tragedy,” Mr Onyango says.

SEE ALSO: Kisumu is zoonotic diseases hotspot

He was among the families that were displaced in the tragedy referred to as “Kodh Uhuru” (Independence Rain).

According to Onyango, the 1962 tragedy was prophesied by the late Zedekiah Oduma – the founder of God’s Last Appeal Church.

Directive from God

“Around 1959, the late Oduma started constructing a dhow which he said was a directive from God. When the rains came, his dhow turned to be the biblical Noah’s Ark,” he recalls.

He added that the vessel used to ferry people from the flooded areas of Got Agulu to the mainland after a ferry made by the colonialists “mysteriously disappeared” in Lake Victoria after heavy winds.

SEE ALSO: For flood victims, it’s a long wait for ‘normalcy’

More than 10 years later, a plan to construct the Goye Bridge began. It took about one year to be completed and was to be used for 20 years before a new one was built.

Despite the breathtaking scenery offered by Goye - a famous landmark in West Yimbo - it has also proven a graveyard and a disaster in waiting.

When The Standard visited the bridge last week, the shreds were so obvious that one could see water underneath. An unsteady shift could also be felt with every vehicle that breezed past.

According to official figures, more than 30 vehicles use the bridge everyday.

Records from the local administration indicate that more than 30 families have been displaced in the last two weeks.

SEE ALSO: 50 dead in Japan floods as rescuers 'race against time'

Residents say the danger is largely a result of the dilapidated bridge and the rising Lake Victoria water levels.

“This bridge was to only last for 20 years and with the increasing population and human activities on the other side, it continues to become weak. It’s time for it to be repaired or a new one built,” said Lawrence Oduma, a resident.

He blamed the government for failing to heed their request for the matter to be addressed before the bridge collapses.

Excitement fades

Eunice Akoth, who crosses the bridge everyday to report to work in Got Agulu sub-location, says her excitement fades and turns into fear when she reaches the bridge.

Every once in a while, villagers volunteer to clear the vegetation that creeps into the highway that passes through the bridge.

“Since there are no guard rails, it is possible for somebody to fall off. The highway is also becoming smaller due to overgrown vegetation and it is not easy to see an oncoming vehicle or motorbike,” says Akoth.

Several accidents are reported to have happened around the bridge in the recent past as residents wait for works on the bridge to commence. A tender for the construction of the bridge and approach roads was closed on March 25.

Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda said plans are underway to rebuild the bridge.

He said the affected families had turned down a proposal to be relocated to another place.


Lake Victoria Floods
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