Uganda National Roads Authority ‘could have chosen to just put up a concrete bridge in place of the New Cable Bridge but did not’ because they wanted to promote tourism.
UNRA’s Roads and Bridges director Samuel Muhoozi said the move would have cost half of the $112m (about Shs41.1b) used to construct the 525-metre long cable-stayed bridge, also referred to as the The New Jinja Bridge.
“We could have chosen to build this new bridge like the old one (Owen Falls Bridge) or we could have just put up a concrete bridge that is half the price but we chose The New Jinja Bridge because we wanted to use it to promote tourism,” he said on the sidelines of the bridge’s commissioning ceremony on Wednesday, October 17.
The fan-shaped bridge, which flies over River Nile is expected to have a life span of 120 years. It boasts a dual carriageway that is 7.0m wide with a pedestrian walk way of 2.25m wide on both ends.
According to Muhoozi, if the bridge also serves as a tourist attraction the country will generate more funds to help repay the 40-year loan from the government of Japan. Japan contributed almost 80 percent of the money needed to construct the country’s latest wonder.
“The Source of the Nile Bridge was built with a high and wide enough space to allow boats of any kind to pass under. It has a wide walkway and viewing space that provides a breath-taking scene of the Nile waters,” he said. “These are scenes of tourism that most people would come and see.”
He was echoed by Tourism minister Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi, who said the new bridge was a major asset that the tourism ministry will exploit fully.
He called on private players to come in and use the vast neighboring land to invest in restaurants, hotels and craft shops among others as a way of benefiting from this iconic cable bridge.
“Tourism is run mostly by private sector. Government cannot come and start building hotels. This is now the turn of private players to start focusing where you can invest and we ask them to come now,” Kiwanda said.
Uganda last year alone attracted more than 1.7million visitors, according to Kiwanda.
UNRA executive director Allen Kagina said the Source of the Nile Bridge can only be compared to a few other bridges in terms of quality which makes it special and a tourist attraction in East Africa
“You cannot compare a Toyota and a Mercedes Benz,” she said.
“This is a Mercedes.”