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Sh1.5b Mbita bridge now an 'open sore'

BUSINESS
By James Omoro | July 1st 2021

Mbita Bridge was constructed at a cost of Sh1.5 billion. [James Omoro, Standard]

A Sh1.5 billion bridge constructed by the national government in Lake Victoria to boost the blue economy is facing vandalism.

Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) started Construction of Mbita bridge in Homa Bay County in March 2013. 

The bridge was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July 2017. It connects the historic Rusinga Island to Mbita town on the mainland.

The bridge is now facing collapse following acts of vandalism.

The vandals began by removing the lighting system - solar panels and bulbs. They then followed by stealing bridge metals. Homa Bay residents are now a worried lot.

Rusinga MCA Okuku Miregi said the bridge might collapse anytime if vandalism is not contained.

“What is happening at the bridge is illegal. It had a proper lighting system; now all we have is darkness,” said Mr Miregi.

He expressed concern that destruction of the lighting system had opened the bridge to thieves and vagabonds who pose a security threat.

“The lights should be replaced,” Miregi said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Karachuonyo MP James Rege and Homa Bay's Tom Alila during the commissioning of the bridge. [James Omoro, Standard]

Hesborn Dondi, a resident, said some of the criminals go as far as removing metals from the bridge.

“A man was found using metals extracted from the bridge. He was using them to install a water tank for another person who hired him in Mbita town,” Dondi said.

He urged residents to stop vandalising the bridge.

“The government played its role very well by rescuing us from tribulations we were going through when the bridge was not there. Let us protect it,” said Dondi.

Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan said a security team in Mbita Sub-county is handling the matter.

He asked residents to divulge information in confidence to security officials on anybody who is vandalising the bridge.

“We will protect confidential information given to us.,” Lilan said.

Interviews with a number of people reveal that the bridge has played a huge role in the economic revival of Homa Bay since it was commissioned.

Rusinga township on Rusinga Island has experienced rapid growth. Residents said investors have been lured to the town and have put up business buildings.

Dancun Aoko, a businessman in Rusinga town said those who visit the town find it difficult to comprehend its growth.

The bridge was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July 2017. [Philip Orwa, Standard]

Mr Aoko said accessibility of the town through the bridge has motivated many investors.

Primary and secondary school pupils from the mainland can now go to schools on Rusinga island.

The bridge has also enhanced tourism on Rusinga Island. The early man, Proconsul africanus, was discovered on the island by Mary Leakey between 1947 and 1948. Proconsul, an ape-like creature, is believed to be the earliest ancestor of humans.

The island also hosts a mausoleum for celebrated freedom fighter and nationalist Tom Mboya.

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