The Executive Director of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Ms Allen Kagina, has directed that Katonga Bridge be reopened to buses as it undergoes repair.
In a September 4, 2023, letter to Ms Prome Consultants Ltd, the company that has been monitoring the bridge, Ms Kagina said since the monitoring of the old existing bridge carried out on 1st September 2023, indicated deflections well within the allowable limits under 30-tonne loading, the existing bridge should be opened for all buses.
However, she said precautionary measures should be taken such as continuous monitoring of the bridge to ensure it is always structurally safe.
“There should be constant traffic control measures, including installation of signages at strategic locations on the Masaka and Kampala sides clearly displaying the type of vehicles that can use the bridge and the acceptable load limits and deploying flagmen to guide traffic across the bridge,” she wrote.
The letter is also copied to the Minister of Works and Transport, the Bus Owners Association and China Communications Construction Co Ltd, which is undertaking repair of the bridge.
The directive is good news to buses that have been using the diversion route through the districts of Butambala, Gomba Sembabule ,Bukomansimbi, Kalungu to connect to Masaka after the bridge collapsed following floods. But it means the other trailers will continue using the diversion to Sembabule.
Katonga Bridge was damaged on May 11 following the flash floods that swept away part of it , forcing motorists to use the diversion route through Sembabule District , which is more than 50km longer.
In June, China Communications Company Ltd (CCCC) embarked on erecting a temporary steel bridge at River Katonga which can be used by all vehicles.
During a tour of the bridge in July, Works and Transport Minister Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala announced that construction of a new permanent bridge at River Katonga will take more time than anticipated to enable the contractor do a ‘thorough job’.
Earlier, the government had promised that construction of a raised permanent pre-stressed concrete bridge will take a year and some few months.
“There was a change in the design of the bridge which has caused a delay in the ongoing works at Katonga. After coming up with a new design, that is when we will discuss with the contractor how much money the project will cost and the duration of the contract,” the minister said
Currently, a section of the bridge is used by only light vehicles.