By Patrick Chitongo
Chiredzi — Construction of new bridge to address carnage south of Zimbabwe is set to resume soon after government pledged a further US$20 million for the project.
The Chilonga Bridge set to stretch 250 metres across the Runde River will link rural and urban Chiredzi, through to the Sango border post and Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Pegging of the bridge at a new site some few metres away from the old one was completed in February this year.
Work on the site is expected to resume upon the completion of an ongoing tendering process.
Government had earlier provided $18 million for revamping the bridge but more funds were needed when authorities decided building a new bridge was more feasible.
“The government is now prioritising construction of the new bridge instead of maintaining the old one which has brought misery to communities in Chikombedzi,” Masvingo provincial engineer, Peter Mukome, said.
He said construction of the bridge would nonetheless depend on the availability of foreign currency.
Chiredzi South Member of Parliament, Kallisto Gwanetsa, hailed the move to resume work at the bridge.
He said the old facility had become a death trap.
“Construction of this bridge will come as a relief because many people lost their lives trying to cross the bridge,” Gwanetsa said.
Chief Tiyani Chilonga said the construction of the bridge was long overdue.
“This will be a positive move to our people,” the traditional leader said.
He lamented that during the rainy season, the Runde river usually flooded and submerged the bridge, forcing local communities to use longer routes to access Chiredzi town.
“Also, some people who do not have money to take the longer route risk their lives by using homemade canoes to cross the flooded bridge,” Chilonga said.
An average three people are killed every rainy season at the river also infested by crocodiles.