At the invitation of the Embassy of Japan, and in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to foster International Political and Economic Cooperation as well as resource mobilization, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb Patrick Mugoya, together with senior officials from the Ministry made a field visit to the Construction site of the new Nile Bridge Project in Jinja on 29/3/2018. The main purpose of the visit to the bridge was to assess ongoing projects and programs between the two countries.
The team was received at the site office in Mpumudde by the Deputy Resident Engineer, Prof. Jackson A. Mwakali, the site engineer from UNRA, Morris Odoch, the contractors The Zenitaka Corporation and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Corp.
They were briefed about the objectives and progress of the project. Prof. Mwakali said that the bridge, will contribute to regional economic growth, ensure safety of the Northern Corridor Route Transportation system and enhance tourism.
“Besides being 525m long,” said Prof. Mwakali, “the bridge will have a Pocket Park for better viewing by tourists and a Road resting station (Michino-Eki) will be provided with a structure containing a mini-supermarket, restaurant, room for a bridge maintenance team, security house and an exhibition center”.
Amb. Mugoya who was flanked by two directors from the Ministry thanked the Embassy of the Republic of Japan for organizing the site visit stressing that resource mobilization, increase of Ugandan content, technical skills and knowledge transfer are only possible through the fostering of close bilateral relations. He recalled that the JICA through which project funds are accessed, used to operate from an office in Nairobi but due to diplomatic engagement had opened up an office in Uganda.
Director for Regional and International Economic Cooperation, Amb. Isaac Sebulime said that the MoFA is currently engaged in finding investments that offer value for money under the Commercial Diplomacy Initiative. He said that the MoFA considers the Bridge as one of the great milestones in Japan-Uganda Cooperation because of its contribution to social-economic development.
“The new bridge will ensure that the cost of doing business in Uganda is lowered both through higher speed limits which ensure perishables are transported faster and its aesthetic value which boost external tourism but more importantly, domestic tourism which is more economically dependable. Amb. Arthur Kafeero, Ag. Director of Regional and Political cooperation explained how through forging stronger diplomatic ties using its diplomatic representatives, the MoFA paves the way for stronger economic cooperation. “A bridge whose design and structural lifespan is 120 years symbolizes another 120 years of friendship,” he said
The team was given a tour of the bridge construction site by Eng. Morris Odrua Odoch, UNRA bridge and structures engineer, including visits to the pylon structures, abutment structures and box girder. They noted with pleasure that it is only a few weeks to near completion. They were shown sites of additional auxiliary works like a tourist rest center (Michino-eki), bridge illumination works and relocation works of public utilities.