The government has commenced construction of a Sh25 million bridge that connects Ngoliba in Thika East in Kiambu County and Soya village in Gatanga, Murang’a County much to the relief of residents.
The project is being undertaken by Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) and is set to be completed mid next month.
Construction materials are on site, with bolting, fixing and slabbing of the metallic beams ongoing.
The construction comes in the wake of a public outcry following the collapse of a temporary bridge that was swept away by flash floods in December last year.
This forced residents to either swim through the crocodile and hippo infested Thika River or pay Sh50 to be ferried across the turbulent river by a boat.
Thika MP Patrick Wainaina said the bridge will be 100 percent steel and will be able to carry heavy weight, unlike the temporary bridge that was swept away a year ago, that was limited to people, animals and bodabodas.
He said other than ease of access to services, inter-county trade between Murang’a, Kiambu, Machakos and Kitui counties will be boosted as traders will move their goods with ease.
Wainaina said the commercial value of the bridge will be tremendous since vehicles from Nyeri- Thika highway heading to Garissa road will be able to bypass Thika town by branching in Makuyu, Murang’a County and connect to the bridge.
He said Thika NG/CDF will grade the roads linking to the bridge for easy accessibility.
“KeRRA gifted us with the materials. Assembling and fixing is ongoing and we hope it will be open by mid-January. The bridge will be able to handle a seven-ton truck and will open the area to business,” he said.
Residents lauded the project saying it will end months of agony that they have gone through swimming through the dangerous Thika River.
They have had to strung wires and ropes across the river to cross using a boat. Fare for adults is Sh50 while schoolchildren pay Sh20 per trip.
Led by Wambua Kiviatu they said lives had been lost as residents swam through the river to seek for services on the other side.
School going children also suffered as they either paid Sh20 to be carried by a boat, or pay a Sh100 motorcycle ride through a long route to school. Some even dropped out of school due to the inconveniences and costs.
“We have lost at least three people in this river. The inconveniences caused during rainy seasons were too much as sometimes the boats could not cross. Schools and hospitals are on the Thika East side and accessing them was difficult,” said Judith Kirathi, a resident.
By Muoki Charles