A new bridge under construction in Tebere area of Kirinyaga county has brought joy to scores of villagers who had to endure the pain of walking long distances to access the market, schools, and health facilities.
The villagers say the Gacuria Moyo bridge, connecting Murinduko and Tebere wards across the crocodile-infested Nyamindi river will be a big relief to farmers, school-going children and traders.
The bridge which is expected to be completed before the end of the year is being constructed by Kirinyaga County government and will serve over 5,000 people living in Ndindiruku, Kiumbu, Marurumo, Miatuini, and South Ngariama in Mwea constituency. “Gacuria Moyo” literally means “putting your life on the line”.
Residents say for a long time, they had to cross the river using the wooden makeshift footbridge that sometimes would be washed away by water when the river swells.
Ndwiga Njoka, a resident of Miatuini village says the thought of the wooden bridge gives him nightmares as he remembers vividly some years back when two pupils at a local school were washed away while crossing the river.
“The wooden structure is our bridge of death; many lives have been lost here; you hold onto your heart while crossing because anything can happen. You can slip and fall into the river or the structure can be washed away any moment,” he said.
“There are people who have been washed away together with the makeshift bridge never to be seen again,” added another villager Rosemary Wanjiku.
Governor Anne Waiguru says from time immemorial, residents from the five villages had to endure using a makeshift wooden bridge to cross the river posing a risk to their lives and making transport of farm produce costly.
The governor says the bridge will spur economic growth by easing transportation of agricultural produce like tomatoes, French beans, watermelon, and rice to the market and increasing employment opportunities in the transport sector such as for the Boda boda riders just to mention a few.
“The county has embarked on a massive road improvement program that will open up the interior parts of the county for sustained social and economic development. We are building bridges to ensure our farmers, traders have easy and fast access to markets,” she said.
Waiguru says bridges and better roads have led to improved household incomes since families can easily transport their farm produce, such as bananas, vegetables, and rice to the market.
Currently, the residents have to travel for around 50 kilometers to access Wang’uru Market. The governor has already commissioned another bridge across river Nyamindi and Mahiga-ini.
Several vital bridges being built by Governor Waiguru’s administration that is lined up for completion are Kiamanyeki-Ciagini, Kaimiri-Gakarara, Matonguini, Karoboti, Kandakame, Kahuhoini and Kibukure. The county is also putting up the Getuya, Mutonga and Munjuha footbridges to ease the movement of people.
The bridges will open up most of the areas which had remained cut-off from other parts and will give the residents’ access to public institutions such as schools and health facilities.
Tebere Ward Member of County Assembly (MCA) Gudson Muchina praised the governor for allocating additional funds in the 2020/21 financial year to ensure all bridges and roads which are under construction in the county are completed.
Muchina said the good working relationship between the executive and the MCAs had resulted in speedy completion of development projects.
“This permanent bridge will be the new lifeline for people living in these farming villages. I am happy the long wait for a permanent bridge for the people is over and those living on the other side of South Ngariama can cross river Nyamindi and access healthcare at Ndinduruku Health facility which has also been built by Governor Anne Waiguru,” he said.
By Irungu Mwangi