Residents and leaders in Arua have expressed concern over the prolonged construction of the Enyau bridges, originally slated for completion eight months ago.
The delayed project has turned these vital crossings into potential death traps, with numerous accidents reported during morning and night hours.
In October 2022, Niem Investments was awarded the contract to construct two crucial bridges over River Enyau, connecting Odia-Nyadri in Arua district and Pajulu - B.A.T road in Arua City.
The intended purpose was to enhance transportation, alleviate the high accident rate in the swamps, and facilitate smoother trade routes to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Marlon Avutia, Mayor of Ayivu Division, stressed the significance of these bridges, noting,"This is a very busy road leading to Arua district, the food basket for the city, and also extends to DR Congo. Pregnant mothers easily access the referral hospital via this road."
The delays in construction have prompted fears among leaders of potential fund recalls as the contract expires today.
Mayor Avutia urged the contractor to seek an extension, cautioning against funds being reclaimed, saying, "The delay should not warrant funds being swept because that is something we will live to regret."
Arua RDC, Okiswa Godfrey, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the need for an extension.
"I monitor regularly, for example, Enyau One. I pass there with lots of disappointments. Ask for an extension of two or three weeks," he urged.
Responding to concerns, Atebe Elly, the director of Niem Establishments, cited the challenges faced during construction.
He pointed out that persistent rains and a shortage of specialized manpower have contributed to the delays. Elly assured the public, stating,"Rain is our biggest challenge. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this rain. We initially anticipated that November would be a dry month, but the situation changed."
He further explained, "We have over forty workers; the challenge, though, is that the degree of experience needed is specialized. Those specialists come from other projects and from Kampala offices."
Despite the setbacks, Elly assured the public that 90 percent of the construction works are completed, with only the deck works remaining, estimating an additional three weeks for completion.
The residents, who are directly impacted, emphasize that the bridges' completion is crucial for improved transportation, reduced costs, and enhanced trade with the DRC, ultimately fostering socioeconomic development in the region.
As the community waits for a resolution, the fate of the Enyau bridges hangs in the balance, urging swift action to address the concerns raised by both leaders and residents.