For decades, China has been trying to build “bridges of friendship” with African nations. On Monday, one of those bridges collapsed.
The Kenyan government has suspended construction of the Sigiri bridge after 28 people, mostly workers, were injured when it broke apart earlier this week. The 100-meter bridge in western Kenya is being built by China Overseas Engineering Co, a subsidiary of China Railway. The company has not yet taken responsibility for the collapse, but has said that it will compensate workers.
Officials have dispatched a team of top engineers to investigate the cause of the collapse of the bridge which was scheduled to be completed next month.
The collapse came just 11 days after an inspection visit made by President Uhuru Kenyatta as part of his campaign tour with elections to be held in August. Kenyatta personally commissioned the bridge, spanning the River Nzioia, at a cost of 1.2 billion Kenyan shillings ($11.5 million).
In his run for reelection, Kenyatta has talked up his focus on improving Kenya’s infrastructure, including a pricey China-built railway connecting the port city of Mombasa to the capital of Nairobi which launched late last month. Kenyatta ordered the construction of the Sigiri bridge following a tragic boat accident on the river which killed 11 people in 2014.
Sigiri bridge will significantly reduce deaths and make it easier for the residents to access markets, schools and hospitals. pic.twitter.com/WDzAebmQQI
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) June 14, 2017
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has used the collapse to slam Kenyatta and his Jubilee for alleged corruption and lack of care about construction standards.
“Jubilee is to blame for the unprofessional job yet a lot of money is going into people’s pocket,” he said. “We are lucky that the bridge collapsed before it was used. Otherwise, we would have lost a lot of lives.”
“This is a good sign of how they will tumble,” he continued. “When the monkey’s day to die draws nigh, all trees become slippery.”
[Images via The Star]
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