By Philip Wafula
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has said that dirty vehicles are increasing the cost of maintaining the Jinja Nile Bridge.
This is according to the Head of Bridges and Structures at the Authority, Eng Lawrence Pario.
The over Shs300bn Cable Stay Bridge with a 120-year lifespan, was officially opened in October 2018, with the government of Japan fully bankrolling the project.
Zenitaka Corporation and Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company from Japan and South Korea respectively erected the overpass.
As contract manager, Eng Pario was responsible for certifying various stages of work for payment during the construction process, ensuring quality assurance, and quality control of works for compliance to specifications among other roles.
But Eng Pario says much of the dirt is accumulated from dirty trucks which is increasing the cost of cleaning the bridge.
Although he is non-committal on how much is spent on maintaining or cleaning the New Bridge, Eng Pario says “driving across it with a dirty vehicle is like walking in your house with muddy feet”.
“The Bridge is currently fairly clean, but our problem is village vehicles which come with mud. Mud is soil the trucks print on the highway,” Eng Pario said in an interview on Monday.
Meanwhile, Ashraf Galandi, a taxi driver from Nankandulo, Buzaaya in Kamuli district, says most drivers of old vehicles prefer driving through rural, usually muddy roads, in order to dodge traffic officers who man the main roads.
Mr Alexander Waiswa, also a taxi driver, says if authorities want to avoid soiling at the New Bridge, they should let trucks start using the Old Bridge like boda boda riders do.
Mr Dominic Mbalumya, another driver, says soiling at the New Bridge is because most roads which connect to Jinja City are marrum; therefore, vehicles pick up the soil as they move and drop some of it at the New Bridge.
Mr Ibrahim Bogere, a truck driver who plies the Namayingo-Kampala route, says the current heavy rains have made most roads nearly impassable in rural areas, which makes their trucks dirty.
Mr Sylvester Ngaga, another truck driver, asks Unra to deploy free car washing services so that whenever trucks arrive at the New Bridge they are first washed before being allowed to proceed.
Eng Pario says such trucks and vehicles carry goods for economic development and suggests that roads that feed the economy be fitted with low-cost seals to enable farmers to sell goods on clean roads.