Mixed fortunes for locals as only bridge collapses

PADER- Although many people are stranded and saddened following the recent collapse of Puranga Bridge on Aswa River on Lira-Kitgum road, others are making a fortune.

The Puranga Bridge, which links Pader, Agago, Lamwo and Kitgum districts to Lira District, crumbled into River Aswa two months ago, under the weight of a truck ferrying cement from Lira to Kitgum.

Mr Nathan Okello, who steers a canoe on the about 60 metre crossing on the river, said he charges Shs6,000 to transport a person across the river and if there is luggage, the fee rises to Shs10,000.

When the only bridge on the river collapsed, the Uganda National Roads Authority announced they would take some -time to reconstruct it because of the heavy rains.

Mr Okello and Mr Hosea Odongkara have been humble fishermen using wooden canoes to fish in the river but the collapse of the bridge brought to them a fortune that has seen them switch business to ferrying people across the river due to overwhelming demand.

“We had never got business like this season where we earn between Shs200,000 to Shs300,000 in a day. It is sad, we share the sadness with businessmen who can’t transport their merchandise to markets and farmers who can’t access market for their crops but at the same time it comes as a blessing to us because we have made about Shs7m in two months. This is a miracle,” Mr Okello told Sunday Monitor last week.

“We did not expect this but it came like any other blessing God can bring to his people. We are thankful to God but at the same time saddened that our brothers are not doing business and farm produce is rotting in the gardens due to failure to access market,” Mr Odongkara said last week.

The Aruu County MP, Mr Odonga Otto, said the government had not maintained or upgraded the 79-year-old bridge which was built by British colonialists.

“This is a tragedy which government should have given first priority but they have not. An urgent action needs to be taken to save the people from the skyrocketing prices [of merchandise],” said Mr Otto.




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