Speaker Among presses for expedited repair on Karuma bridge

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Speaker Among presses for expedited repair on Karuma bridge
Karuma Bridge was closed to heavy traffic for three months

Parliament has urged the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to prioritise and expedite the repair work on Karuma Bridge to minimize delays faced by road users during the ongoing maintenance.

Last week, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) temporarily closed Karuma Bridge in Kiryandongo district to heavy vehicles such as buses, lorries, and trailers. Only passenger vehicles carrying up to 28 passengers were permitted to use the bridge.

Upon assessment, UNRA identified significant deterioration in the bridge structure, particularly on the Kampala approach lane, specifically highlighting the concrete deck.

UNRA stated on Friday, "The sustained exposure of the bridge to increasingly heavy traffic is likely to accelerate its deterioration and affect its functionality if not addressed promptly."

Given the urgent need for intervention, UNRA has initiated the process of identifying a competent contractor to swiftly restore the bridge structure.

"Effective Monday, May 6, 2024, Karuma Bridge will be closed to all lorries, trailers, and buses. Only passenger vehicles carrying up to 28 passengers will be allowed to use the bridge. We anticipate completing these repairs within three months," announced UNRA.

Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, expressed concerns regarding the financial implications resulting from the bridge closure. She urged UNRA to expedite the repair process, stating, "The work is currently underway, and I encourage them to prioritize the road repairs."

Jonathan Odur, MP for Erute South, blamed the government for disregarding expert warnings about the impact of the Karuma Dam on the Karuma Bridge. He claimed that neglecting these warnings has significantly reduced the bridge's lifespan.

"The construction of the new dam at Karuma overlooked a crucial element. Feasibility studies should have considered the bridge's vulnerability, as it deteriorated rapidly. Although this issue was brought to the government's attention during the 10th Parliament, no action was taken," explained Odur.

Allan Ssempebwa, spokesperson for UNRA, clarified that no visible cracks were found on the Karuma Bridge.

However, their inspection teams discovered compromised reinforcements beneath the bridge, necessitating immediate action.

"We have dedicated teams located throughout the country, ready to respond to all road emergencies," assured Ssempebwa.

"Our inspection teams identified issues with the Karuma Bridge, but we have the necessary resources to address the situation promptly," he added.

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