Concerns are rising about the efficacy of the Kiwanja Ndege footbridge project in Lugari Location, Lugari Sub-county in Kakamega County, after it emerged that thieves are cutting and stealing the metal that has been lying across the river since the project stalled.
The Sh10 million project, which was to connect Lugari Ward and Chekalini Ward, was forced to stop after the metal railings that were being mounted on the two concrete pillars on each bank of the Kipkaren River cracked and broke twice, injuring three workers.
Now the project looks far from being complete, if at all it will resume, since it was abandoned two months ago.
“The metal was being mounted on the pillars when it broke and injured three workers. Two were rushed to Lumakanda where they were treated and discharged. Thieves are now cutting and carrying away the metal at night,” said Stanley Makhatsa, a neighbor who was among the injured.
Dickson Wasilwa alias Councillor Kuni, the chairman of the Project Management Committee (PMC), said the project has been lagging for two months now. He is urging the community members to stop the vandalism.
“The project came to a sudden stop after the metal failed to stand on the pillars, worse enough that what remains of it is being stolen,” he said.
“The project, which began on June 2, 2021, and was supposed to be completed by December 12, 2021, came to a standstill after some of the 30 youths working on site were hit by the metal that broke when they were mounting it on the pillars. After it broke the first time, the engineer ordered it to be joined through welding, but it broke again,” he added.
The neglected metal is lying across the river, posing a real danger to whoever may be tempted to cross. What happened in 2018 when a student was crossing a dilapidated footbridge (which was demolished by angry residents) to church, may repeat.
What did the engineer say?
Neivio Amutai, the engineer in charge of the project, said in a phone call that the project would resume before January ends. This is after he had claimed not being aware it came to a standstill due to the metal breaking on workers.
“Nothing like that happened… Maybe if I can find out… The last time I was there, the work was ongoing. I was there two weeks down the line (now two months weeks). The project is past completion time (yes), it was supposed to be completed by December 12th, 2021,” he had said.
The engineer had added that the contractor requested an extension of time for reasons well known to him.
When asked what he planned to do about the metal lying across the river, the engineer said: “I will do what I can.”
‘It is not stalled’
Andrew Musungu, the foreman in charge of the project, confirmed that indeed the metal broke and inflicted ‘minor’ injuries on the workers. He termed it a normal incident for anyone working at a construction site.
“It happens with many other projects. But ours is not stalled either, just a few issues with the CDF, who are the owners. If it was really stalled, then we could have lost our work, but the CDF management knows it better,” he had said, adding that the project would resume fast enough in the new year.
Who is the contractor?
The contractor, MS Vendra Suppliers Agency from Kitale, was awarded the tender at a cost of Kshs 9,925,299 on May 20, 2021 by the National Government Constituency Development Fund and their work ought to be complete by now.
The project was commissioned by Lugari MP Ayub Savula on May 22, 2021.
Attempts to reach out to the contractor were futile.
Sam Oduor is the editor-in-chief at the Western Kenya Times who leverages the power of the Internet in telling stories that shape opinions.