The KShs 10 million Kiwanja Ndege footbridge project in Lugari Location in Lugari Sub-county, Kakamega County, 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.
Two of the three are said to have sustained serious injuries and rushed to Lumakanda County Hospital, while Stanley Makhatsa, who spoke to the Western Kenya Times, received first aid at home.
“The metal was being mounted to the pillars when it broke and injured three workers. Two were rushed to Lumakanda where they were treated and discharged,” he said.
Dickson Wasilwa alias Councillor Kuni, who is the chairman of the Project Management Committee (PMC), said the project has been lagging for four weeks now since the incident.
“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,” Mr. Wasilwa said.
The neglected metal is now 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 he was not aware the metal railings failed and collapsed on workers. To him, in fact, the project is ongoing and nothing is wrong with it.
“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 four weeks). The project is past completion time (yes), it was supposed to be completed by December 12th, 2021,” he said.
The engineer added that the contractor had 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.”
He added that the design does not support the erection of another pillar at the center to sustain the weight of the bridge, as Dickson Wasilwa had said would be the solution.
“If we have to erect another pillar, then we will move from a footbridge to a bridge,” Mr. Amutai said.
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The details provided by the engineer were rather sketchy and contradicted information obtained from other reliable sources.
In a recent call, however, he accepted that another pillar would be erected and the metal replaced. He said the bridge would be ready for use by end of this month.
‘It is not stalled’
He directed us to Andrew Musungu, whom he claimed was the contractor, but Mr. Musungu denied it, claiming he was only but the foreman.
Mr. Musungu confirmed that indeed the metal broke and inflicted ‘minor’ injuries on the workers, but he termed it a normal accident for anyone working on a construction.
“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 said, adding that the project would resume fast enough in the new year.
Who is the real 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.
Our attempts to find phone contacts to speak to the contractor were futile.
Below is a video of one of the workers explaining what transpired
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.