Speaker Among tasks UNRA to expedite Karuma repairs

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Speaker Among tasks UNRA to expedite Karuma repairs
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Karuma Bridge has been closed to major traffic as engineers look into fixing structural defects on its pillars

The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among has called upon the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to expedite repairs along Karuma Bridge to ease traffic flow.

Over the weekend, UNRA announced it would shut down Karuma Bridge to heavy traffic for three months to repair structural defects effective this Monday.

In a statement, UNRA said access to the bridge would be restricted to only passenger vehicles carrying about 28 people during the three months.

“Only passenger vehicles carrying up to 28 persons will be allowed to use the bridge. We anticipate that this intervention will be completed in three months," UNRA said.

Chairing Monday’s plenary, the Speaker said there is need by UNRA to expedite repairs on the bridge to minimise travel chaos.

“On May 3, Uganda National Roads Authority issued a public notice on the deterioration of the Karuma Bridge and effective today, the access to the bridge will be restricted to only passenger vehicle carrying about 28 people, and alternative routes have been provided and of course we know what it comes with, the implication of the cost, the delays and all that,” Among said.

“The work is being worked on and I want to urge them to expedite the working on the road," she added.

UNRA, in its statement, blamed the structural defects on the bridge to continued exposure to the ever-increasing heavy traffic.

The roads’ agency warned that the heavy traffic would accelerate the bridge’s deterioration if not addressed in time.

However, Erute South MP Jonathan Odur blamed the bridge’s current state on the government not taking action after warnings by experts on the impact of Karuma dam on the bridge.

“There is something that Gov’t had overlooked when we were constructing that the new dam at Karuma, there is reasonable suspicion should be suspected to studies,” Odur said.

“That the feasibility studies of the impact on the bridge itself, the bridge deteriorated faster and while this was brought to the attention of Government in the 10thParliament, of the status of that bridge, no action took place since then.” he added.

Cabinet meeting on Monday was expected to make major decisions on the fate of the 61-year-old bridge as well as the resultant travel chaos due to the closure.

Lorries, trailers and buses going to and from northern Uganda, West Nile, DR Congo and South Sudan have been diverted to pass through Murchison Falls National Park.

By Monday morning, the bridge was a scene of chaos as several commuters tailed a long traffic at both ends.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority said on Sunday it would not waive the park entrance fee for light vehicles, which keeps taxis and other travels in the ditch since the Shs20,000 per head levied by UWA can become too costly when the numbers are big.

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