Thousands of traders suffered a setback on Wednesday after Riat bridge, a 41-year-old link between the counties of Homa Bay and Migori, collapsed.
The bridge was constructed on River Kuja in 1980 by the British military and has huge economic significance as it connects Oria market in Uriri Constituency, Migori County, to various parts of Homa Bay County.
Eyewitnesses claimed that the bridge gave way as a Sukari Industries trailer attempted to cross at 4am. Confirming the mishap, the sugar firm said the trailer was headed to Homa Bay to deliver sugarcane.
“It is worth noting that about four years ago, we restricted our drivers from using that bridge. It is against this backdrop that we have launched an investigation to establish why the driver decided to go against the directive of the company and use the bridge,” said Sukari Industries.
The firm added that it is engaging stakeholders to ensure that a temporary passway is found.
The driver of the trailer sustained minor injuries and was taken to a health facility in Ndhiwa.
According to Milton Orwe, a resident and speaker of the informal Ndhiwa Bunge La Wenyenchi, the collapse has affected movement and trade.
Orwe said the bridge was key for Ndhiwa residents in need of health services in Migori and blamed the government for the slow response in finding a solution to ease movement.
“We had petitioned the Kenya Rural Roads Authority to act on the bridge following its dilapidated status. It is unfortunate the bridge has collapsed before any action was taken,” said Orwe.
Joram Okola, the Secretary of the Luo Council of Elders in Homa Bay County, warned of losses in livelihoods if the cut off persists.
“Oria market is synonymous with livestock trade because it is where livestock farmers and traders from a number of constituencies in Migori and Homa Bay buy or sell their livestock,” Okola said.
Okola expressed concern that parents, who rely on trade to make ends meet, may fail to raise school fees due to the collapse of the bridge.
“It is very unfortunate that the bridge has collapsed at a time when parents are expected to take their livestock to the market on Friday to get school fees. We call on the government authorities to intervene and enable us to get a permanent solution to this problem,” said the secretary.
Ndhiwa Sub-County Police Commander Robert Aboki said police have requested a crane from Kisumu to help crank the trailer out of the river.
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