By Stephen Kalema

Uganda, on Wednesday, October 17, made a significant move in terms of infrastructural development and improvement when President Museveni commissioned the iconic cable-stayed Source of the Nile Bridge.

A cable-stayed bridge is one similar to a suspended bridge and usually boasts one or more towers, from which cables support the bridge deck. A distinctive feature are the cables or stays, which run directly from the tower to the deck, normally forming a fan-like pattern or a series of parallel lines

What’s about the Source of the Nile Bridge?

Also known as the The New Jinja Bridge, the latest infrastructural marvel is 525 metres long and is the second of its kind in East Africa, 155 metres behind Tanzania’s 680m-long Kigamboni Bridge which commissioned in 2016.
In Africa, the Source of the Nile Bridge is the fifth longest cable-stayed bridge behind Egypt’s Suez Canal Bridge (3,900m), Lekki Ikoyi Bridge in Nigeria (1,360m), Mohammed VI Bridge in Morocco (950m) and Tanzania’s Kigamboni.

Cable-stayed bridges are one of the most elegant designs for a bridge. They have a modern look and feel, and use less steel than the other types such as arch, beam, suspension, and truss.

The Source of the Nile Bridge was designed by Ugandan David Luyimbazi, the former Director of Planning, Uganda National, Roads Authority. His inspiration came from the Zakim Bridge in Boston, Massachusetts. The design and feasibility study for the bridge took three years and the works were done strictly without affecting the water flowing into Owen Falls. Luyimbazi was also part of the designed the Entebbe Expressway.

Some of its features include:

The 525m-long bridge has a central span of 290m, end spans (amount of space) of 135m and 100m on the east and west banks respectively.

The overall width of the Bridge is 22.9m wide. It has a dual carriageway 7.0m wide with a pedestrian walk way of 2.25m wide on both ends. For security at night, the Bridge has lighting facilities. These 202 Light-Emitted Diodes (LED) bulbs at the base of the cables, but with the meridian of the deck, that light up the 72 stay cables.

The bridge’s foundation of 1.5m and 2.0m diameter piles are embedded approximately 14-23m deep into hard rock.
New 1.83km long asphalt roads approaching the bridge through three at-grade junctions at Nile Breweries, Nytil and Jinja round about to allow interchange of traffic to the existing road network.

The bridge has sensors to sense whether the bridge deck is moving or not and also spot vehicles that are overloaded. These will apprehended at the other side of the bridge.

Along the bridge are many towers known as pylons (a tower-like structure used for carrying electricity cables high above the ground). Each tower has cables that connect it to the bridge. These cables exert a tension that keeps the bridge in place. In the cable-stayed bridge, the cables deliver all of the weight of the bridge to the towers, and therefore, the bridge doesn’t need to be anchored to the shores.

Cost of construction

The total cost of the Source of the Nile Bridge was budgeted at US$125 million. Japanese government financed 80 percent of the cost, in the form of a soft loan of US$100 million at an annual interest rate of 0.01 percent, repayable in ten years but extendable to forty years. The government of Uganda funded the remaining US$25 million (20 percent), out of its own coffers.

In March 2018, the Ugandan Parliament authorized a supplementary loan from JICA, amounting to Japanese Yen3.891 billion (Shs133 billion), to complete this project. The bridge was completed and officially commissioned on 17 October 2018. The cost of construction was quoted at US$112 million (approximately USh41.1 billion).