Japan has lent Uganda $102 million (about Shs 232bn) to build a new bridge across River Nile, in Jinja.
This funding, that brings Japan’s loan contribution to Uganda in 2010 to $190 million, is the biggest loan Japan has extended to the country, so far. The new bridge will be built between the Nalubaale/Kiira and the railway bridges.
It will relieve the Nalubaale bridge, whose lifespan is said to have expired, of heavy traffic. Formerly Owen Falls Dam, Nalubaale was commissioned in 1954 and currently can’t sustain the increased volume of cargo and traffic, which has put it under a lot of pressure beyond its planned capacity.
The bridge is part of the Northern Corridor Route (NCR) which constitutes a major business strategic link for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan.
According to the Minister for Works and Transport, John Nasasira, who was speaking during the agreement signing ceremony between the government of Uganda and Japan, 95 percent of goods and passenger traffic in Uganda passes through this route.This has tremendously affected the bridge.
“The ever increasing trade volumes between Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, Southern Sudan and Burundi have only served to increase the wear and tear of both the dam and bridge structures resulting from growing traffic volumes and excessive overloading,” said Nasasira.
The combination of ageing, poor condition and projected accelerated deterioration for both the dam and bridge structures prompted government to provide an alternative independent bridge across River Nile that would provide the required guarantees for trade movement and growth as well as save the existing structures from failure.
The bridge, whose construction will commence in March 2012, is currently planned to be a 525-metre long, dual lane, and three-span PC cable-stayed bridge with inverted Y-shape pylons. Work is expected to last four years and, according to Nasasira, it will be commissioned in August 2016.
“It shall be the largest ever bridge in the history of Uganda and I am confident it shall be the most beautiful one as well,” said Keiichi Kato, Japan’s Ambassador to Uganda.
Keiichi noted that as “Uganda’s development goal moves forward from poverty eradication to sustainable economic growth, improvement of economic infrastructure is one of the most pressing development challenges.”
“With regard to most urgent projects to eliminate infrastructure bottlenecks, construction of a new Nile bridge is certainly the one,” he said.
Japan has been instrumental in providing developmental loans to Uganda. This year, it provided $34.8 million for the Bujagali Interconnection project, $33.9 for upgrading of Atiak-Nimule Road project, and $54 million for the NELSAP Interconnection of international electric grids project.