The Government of Uganda has added Nyara Bridge in Terego District to its stock of bridge infrastructure after its completion in June this year. The Terego Bridge is of particular importance, considering Uganda’s internationally acclaimed commitment towards hosting people who, unfortunately have gad to become refugees.
The construction of the bridge was funded jointly by the Government of Japan through its development arm; the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Government of Uganda and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) which was the capacity building partner.
The 48m double span composite bridge with a dual carriageway width of 6m and a walkway of 1m on either side was constructed at a project cost of USD 2,466,821.
The civil works were contracted to a local construction firm M/S Dynaco Ltd in line with government policy to promote the local construction industry. Works commenced on 14th July 2021, and were successfully completed in June 2022.
The bridge provides a link between the Rhino Refugee Settlement Ofua Zone and the Rhino Extension Omugo Zone in Uriama and Omugo sub-county’s respectively. The bridge now provides the host communities, the refugees, humanitarian actors and development partners’ accessibility to each of these zones which would previously require a 54km detour to access basic services such as schools, health centers, markets and humanitarian assistance.
At the time of the inception of the project, the number of refugees was estimated at 134,000 in Rhino Camp Settlement, 23,000 in the Rhino Camp Extension and 67,470 in the host communities.
The Japanese Ambassador, H.E Fukuzawa Hidemoto presided over the handover of the Nyara Bridge to the District local government for maintenance. The Minister of State for Works, was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Bageya Waiswa.
A representative from UNOPS East and Southern Africa, representatives from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, representatives from Arua and Terego local governments were also present at the handover.
While addressing the gathering, the Japanese Ambassador noted that this year marked the 60th year of Japan-Uganda diplomatic relations and that the completion of the Nyara Bridge Construction is a significant milestone in the Japan-Uganda relations and the Japanese journey to enhancing community growth and development for both refugees and host communities.
“Let me emphasize that this Nyara Bridge will contribute to not only a logistical benefit to all stakeholders but also a substantial effect on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus which the government of Japan has forged ahead with. The Nyara Bridge will play a holistic path of local integration and a promotion of peaceful coexistence of refugees and host communities that have important impacts on supply chain and development as functional and direct actors,” remarked the Ambassador.
The Government of Japan has been supporting refugees and host communities through strengthening the self-reliance and resilience of communities and finding durable solutions in line with the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
The Nyara Bridge project was therefore aimed at enhancing community growth and development by alleviating extraneous travel time and distance specifically between the refugee settlements and host communities in the Rhino Camp Zone, create connectivity to resources and services and promote peaceful coexistence.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Bageya Waiswa commended the contractor for a well-constructed bridge which is beneficial to the host community and refugees in the area.
“It should be appreciated that this bridge will not only contribute to easing the movement of humanitarian aid but also contribute to pillar 2 of the Parish Development Model; whose goal is to enhance infrastructure development in the communities,” read the remarks.
“Further, as spelt in the NDP III, Government intends to construct more bridges in partial fulfilment of NRM broad objectives of enhancing the wellbeing of all Ugandans; in pursuance of the agenda of inclusive growth, development and social transformation,” he added.
Local leaders present at the handover ceremony stressed that River Nyara has a big catchment area and becomes very ferocious especially at the peak of the rainy season, carrying tree stumps, branches and other vegetation from agricultural activities upstream. This has repeatedly cut off connectivity between Uriama Sub County and Omugo Sub County. It was also reported that attempting to cross the river during such times has resulted in several casualties.
The Permanent Secretary thanked the Government and the people of Japan through JICA for the funds provided to construct the Nyara Bridge.
“Uganda has benefited from many projects funded by the government of Japan through JICA and for this, the country is very grateful especially noting that very many of these have actually been grants,” Mr. Bageya remarked.
He also appreciated UNOPS for working tirelessly throughout the project to ensure the successful implementation of the project.
In addition to the construction of the Nyara Bridge, the project also carried out a technical training session for District Engineers from Arua, Koboko, Madi-Okollo, Maracha and Terego in June 2022 on Bridge inspection, operations and maintenance.
The UNOPS representative Fumie Arimizu, noted that Technical capabilities of operations and maintenance are essential to maintain existing bridges in good condition until the end of their design life span as well as for future bridge construction projects, hence the need for capacity building.
The Commissioner Roads and Bridges, Eng.Stephen Kitonsa implored Terego District under whose jurisdiction the bridge falls to take good care of the infrastructure from which the community will reap benefits spanning from safe and all weather access to social and economic services/facilities like education, health and trade.