British-built bridge connecting Homa Bay, Migori collapses

The trailer plunged into River Kuja on May 12, 2021. [James Omoro, Standard]

Thousands of traders suffered a setback after a 41-year-old bridge connecting Homa Bay and Migori counties collapsed.

Riat bridge was constructed on River Kuja in 1980 by the British military.

The bridge is the main artery between Oria market in Uriri Constituency, Migori County and Homa Bay County.

The bridge collapsed at about 4am on Wednesday.

A lorry that was ferrying sugarcane to Sukari Industries plunged into the river when the bridge gave way.

The driver of the lorry sustained minor injuries and was taken to a health facility at Riat trading centre in Ndhiwa.

Eyewitnesses said the bridge collapsed due to the weight of the lorry and its load.

The sugar miller confirmed one of their lorries was on the bridge and was headed to Homa Bay to deliver sugarcane.

"Four years ago, we restricted our drivers from using that bridge," Sukari Industries said in a statement.

"We have launched an investigation to establish why the driver decided to go against the company's directive."

The miller added it was working closely with the local community and leaders from the region to get a solution.

According to Milton Orwe, the spokesperson of the informal Ndhiwa Bunge La Wenyenchi, trade has been affected by the collapse of the bridge.

Orwe said the bridge was also used by Ndhiwa residents to access health services in Migori.

He blamed the government for failing to repair the bridge. “We had petitioned the Kenya Rural Roads Authority to act on the bridge and it is unfortunate it has collapsed before any action was taken.”

Thousands of traders from Ndhiwa, Nyatike and parts of Uriri constituencies who have been using the bridge to access Oria market will be affected.

Oria is the main livestock market for traders from Uriri, Ndhiwa, Nyatike, Awendo, Rongo, parts of Suba North and Homa Bay Town constituencies. 

Joram Okola, the secretary of the Luo Council of Elders in Homa Bay County said many people are going to lose their sources of livelihood.

“Oria market is where livestock farmers and traders from a number of constituencies in Migori and Homa Bay buy transact their business,” Okola said.

He added that parents who rely on the livestock trade may not pay school fees for their children due to the collapse of the bridge.

Robert Aboki, the Ndhiwa sub-county Police Commander said they have asked for a crane from Kisumu so they can remove the lorry from the river.