Footbridge in Mafuluto, Tanzania

Footbridge in Mafuluto, Tanzania

We have made even better progress than we dared hope and have an almost-complete bridge deck in place now.  It has been a tough week for everyone, with 35ºC daytime temperatures, not a lot cooler at night.  Thank goodness the river was there to cool off in at the end of the day, with no crocodiles in sight.  By Friday December 1st, though, the river was a raging torrent after the storm, so the river was impassable.

The access stairways on both sides are complete, the cables strung across the river and tensioned, and the deck undersides painted as well. The deck is almost completed – there remains a small adjustment gap to fit, but we have been able to walk across the river on the deck, which is just as well since the river is now impassable!  The bridge looks wonderful in that very rural setting.

God’s miraculous hand has been in this construction work on several occasions.  Twice over the last 3 weeks, just when we thought things would have to stop because of lack of village labour, the village has turned out in force that very day to help.  And then the rains, which everyone expected to start early (in November) this year have held off until just 2 days ago, the first time we could manage the work without having to pass through the river. The final deck piece and deck fencing will be fitted soon, and the villagers will be completing the final coat of paint after the construction is finished. 

Update July 2023

Preparations are underway for the construction of the footbridge across the Little Ruaha River linking Mafuluto and Luganga villages. This is a brief update on progress to date.

  • Over the last few months we have been looking at sourcing the steelwork materials and suitable fabrication yards in Tanzania, but have decided to use Bridging the Gap Africa (BtGA) to procure and fabricate the steelwork in Kenya as they can source all the requisite materials and have experience of the fabrication. We have found it will be cheaper for them to do all that and then for us to freight it to Tanzania, including any import charges, rather than for EI to purchase the materials and get it fabricated here in Tanzania. At the end of June BtGA were instructed to proceed with the fabrication.
  • Now that Kenyan fabrication has been decided, EI has started the process to request duty-free import of the materials to Tanzania, although the outcome of this is not guaranteed. The economic purchase of steelwork from Kenya is not dependent on obtaining duty-free importation, but it will be a bonus if it is possible.
  • Prior to any work on site, it is necessary for a Memorandum of Understanding to be agreed between EI, the villages and the Diocese of Ruaha. This will set out the responsibilities of each party during construction, and including the bridge operation and maintenance once it is completed. At a meeting with the leaders of Mafuluto and Luganga, the two villages on either side of the river, the likely MOU requirements were discussed and plans made for the appropriate village agreements to be made. Both leaderships are very happy that things are moving forward with planned construction on site towards the end of the year.
  • Access to the bridge site for delivery of materials has been surveyed and found that access for trucks is best made on the Mafuluto side only. Materials will have to be portaged across the river for the work on the Luganga side. This is a key reason why the planned construction time has to be towards the end of the dry season, when wading across the river will not present any problems.
  • During a brief visit to Iringa this month Andy Sharpe visited the footbridge site and villages and made plans with the EI Iringa team for necessary administration agreements and for the mobilisation and preparation for foundations construction in mid October. At that time he plans to return to oversee the construction and bridge installation along with a BtGA engineer from Kenya.

The proposed timetable for construction is:

Start of October 2023 – Mobilise to site and commence delivery of construction materials.
Mid October 2023 – Set out foundations, excavate and cast concrete.
Mid November 2023 – String cables, launch decking and install access stairways.
End November 2023 – Complete construction, tidy site and handover.


Andy Sharpe - EI UK

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