Bridges collapse one by one in Burundi

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On Thursday, May 6, 2021, a bridge located on national road number 3 collapsed, making this section impracticable.

This road, which is the main connecting the southwestern provinces of Burundi to those of the northwest, has therefore been inaccessible since this incident last Thursday.

This bridge which has just collapsed is in addition to others already passed in different corners of the country since the beginning of this current year.

Spotlight on the causes and consequences with Pascal Ndayisenga, Journalist and Blogger based in this nation, member of the East African community.

It is three o’clock in Gitega. Thirteen hours, universal time, GMT. It is raining. Like my friends, I take shelter from this rain. By killing time, I check my device to see if there are new messages in my smart phone. Suddenly, a message with a photo falls. It seems very urgent.
“Amakuru yihuta.

Ikiraro ca Bujumbura-gitaza kiracitse cose. Imodoka zivuye rumonge zirakase tudashitse no mukabezi.
Imvura nayo n’isegenya.
Bwira n’abandi bamenye uko bavyifatamwo ”

Which can literally be translated as follows:

“An urgent message: the Bujumbura-Gitaza bridge is breaking. The cars heading for Rumonge turn around before we even get to Kabezi. Inform the others to make adequate arrangements.”

The message was relayed on social networks. Taken up by local media, the message of the bridge collapse of the Kirasa River, a waterway separating the two provinces, was finally confirmed by the Burundi national police with details. It’s finally official!

What had really happened?

Torrential rain fell in the high mountains of Bujumbura and Rumonge provinces (southwestern Burundi), in Muhuta commune and part of Kabezi commune.
It was the waters of these rains that came down with force destroying the bridge over the Kirasa river. The bridge was located on national road number 3. All movement had just been paralyzed.

Consequences are not long

This route is mainly used for the exchange of goods from Rumonge, Makamba, (southwestern Burundi) and Bujumbura provinces. Goods from Tanzania pass through the same route.

The path must be too long for these traders who must bypass the provinces of Makamba-Rutana and Bururi to be able to reach the city of Bujumbura (Economic capital of Burundi).

The inhabitants of Cibitoke Province (north-west of Burundi) also lost in this incident. Indeed, they supplied Rumonge with various goods. Passengers are now taking two buses before making ends meet. With the cut-off of this road, it is the regional economy which is paralyzed.

Probable causes of this breaking of the bridges.

According to the Burundi national police, this Kirasa bridge showed no signs that it was going to collapse. However, this Kirasa River Bridge follows the movement of other bridges that have collapsed in different corners of the country.

For Innocent Banigwaninzigo, specialist in environment and climate change, these bridges are old.
“We are currently facing a break in the bridges. Nothing is surprising. They are over fifty years old. With the weights still hanging over them, they can easily break. is that these bridges were erected almost in the same period, “he explains.

On the other hand, climate change is a major cause.

Apart from the kirasa bridge located on National Road Number three, other damage was recorded following the torrential rains of May 6. These include 167 houses destroyed, small livestock (2 sheep and 3 goats) killed by these rains, several hectares of crop fields washed away and a high Kirasa bridge (connecting the Busenge area and that of Muhuta) destroyed, according to the spokesperson of the Ministry having the interior in its attributions.

For Banigwaninzigo Innocent, it is necessary to think about the reboissement and the contour lines in these high mountains. This would have prevented certain dangers.
Since the start of 2021 (from there five months), seven bridges have collapsed in Burundi. Two in Kayanza (north of the country), one on the Bujumbura-Bubanza (west of the country) road, another in Muramvya (center of the country) on National Road number two.

Recently, another bridge collapsed in Bururi (South of the country) before these last two (on the national road number three and Kirasa high).
The consequences always affect the economy of the region and even the country. Environmental protection organizations and decision-makers can combine their efforts for prevention through environmental education. Specialists in the construction of public infrastructure can also check the condition of these infrastructures on a day-to-day basis in order to avoid the worst.

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