Design Modifications to Delay Katonga Bridge Construction

The completion of a new bridge at River Katonga in Mpigi District, along the Kampala-Masaka highway, will face a slight delay due to modifications in the design, as announced by the Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala.

Gen Wamala explained that the construction of a new permanent bridge at River Katonga will require more time than initially anticipated in order to ensure a meticulous job by the contractor, China Communications Company Ltd (CCCC).

Previously, the government had assured that the construction of a raised permanent pre-stressed concrete bridge would be completed within a year and a few months. However, due to a change in the bridge’s design, the ongoing works at Katonga have experienced a setback. The minister stated in a recent interview, “After finalizing the new design, we will enter discussions with the contractor regarding the project’s cost and the revised timeline for completion.”

Currently, only light vehicles can utilize a section of the bridge. Heavy cargo lorries, trailers, and buses must still follow a diversion route through the districts of Butambala, Gomba Sembabule, Bukomansimbi, and Kalungu to reach Masaka.

Last month, CCCC began constructing a temporary steel bridge at River Katonga, intended for use by all vehicles. However, progress on the temporary bridge has been slow.

Gen Wamala appealed to motorists for patience, emphasizing the importance of allowing the contractor sufficient time to ensure a high-quality and durable bridge. “We aim to construct a bridge that can withstand disasters, including potential river flooding,” he added.

Furthermore, the restoration works at the upstream of River Katonga, where culverts were washed away, causing the Villa Maria-Kabulasoke Road to be cut off, will also face delays until the water level subsides.

On May 13, the flash floods damaged the culverts over River Katonga, disrupting transportation between Kalungu and Gomba. Presently, motorists from Kalungu heading towards Gomba must use either the Sembabule-Kisozi-Kifampa Road or the Masaka-Kampala Road, branching off from Kayambwe in Mpigi District. Unfortunately, these alternative routes add an extra 120 km and 95 km respectively to the journey.

To mitigate the situation, local leaders from both districts have improvised by providing two wooden canoes for travelers to cross the river, charging between Shs5,000 and Shs10,000.

The minister acknowledged that the water level remains high and stated, “We are unable to take any action at the moment. Once the situation normalizes, new culverts will be installed, and traffic will be restored.”

The Katonga Bridge suffered damage on May 11 due to flash floods that washed away a portion of the structure. Additionally, another shorter alternative route for motorists from Masaka, passing through Kalungu and Gomba districts to connect to Mpigi, is currently impassable following the destruction of culverts on the Villa-Maria-Kabulasoke road over River Katonga. The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is yet to commence repairs on this route.

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