Nyerere Bridge: Nation's new icon opens

20Apr 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Nyerere Bridge: Nation's new icon opens

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday officially inaugurated Nyerere Bridge - east Africa's longest suspension bridge - linking the sprawling Kigamboni area to the rest of Dar es Salaam.

President John Magufuli cuts a ribbon together with government officer s to inaugurate Nyerere Bridge which connecting Kigamboni and Kurasini in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

The president showed his humble side by declining a request from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication for the bridge to be named after him and instead personally opted to name it Nyerere Bridge in tribute to the Father of the Nation.

Magufuli served as minister for works for 15 years during his 20-year-long career as a cabinet minister before becoming president and is among instrumental figures who played a key role from the early stages of the construction of the bridge.

"This 680-metre long bridge with its suspended cables is one of a kind in east and central Africa ... the (Chinese) contractors have done a good job," he said.

"The minister for works wanted to name the bridge after me ... I don't deserve it. If you allow me, let's call it Nyerere Bridge."

The Kigamboni Member of Parliament, Faustine Ndugulile, welcomed Magufuli's decision to name the bridge after the founding president, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.

"I would have loved it to be called Kigamboni Bridge, but Nyerere Bridge is an even better proposition. Nyerere's legacy lives on," Ndugulile said via Twitter.

Formerly known as Kigamboni Bridge, the transport infrastructure, which has been hailed by many Dar es Salaam residents as an 'architectural masterpiece,' was built at a cost of $143 million, which is equivalent to over 310 billion/- at the current exchange rate.

Tanzania’s first cross-sea bridge is a joint venture project between the state-run National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which owns a 60 per cent stake and the government (40 per cent).

The president dismissed allegations of corruption in the bridge construction and cited the former NSSF director general, Dr Ramadhan Dau, for special praise in making the completion of the project possible.

Magufuli said the toll bridge would have a life span of over 100 years and urged Tanzanians to protect the infrastructure for the benefit of future generations.

He said pedestrians will have a toll-free access to the bridge in the first few years of operations, but bicyclists, motorbike riders and motorists will pay a fee for using the infrastructure.

The president urged citizens to use the bridge to bring about economic prosperity and advised city residents to open businesses along road leading to and from the structure without breaching into the road reserve.

Plans to build the bridge started way back in 1933 during the British colonial rule but the project stalled due to lack of funding until September 2012 when former president Jakaya Kikwete officiated at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the structure. Kikwete was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s formal opening of the bridge.

The bridge has six lanes (three on each direction) and two lanes for pedestrians and cyclists with a width of 2.5 metres.

There is a toll plaza for controlling and charging of vehicles passing through the bridge, which has a total of 14 controlled lanes in the area.

For management of operations of the bridge, a total of seven buildings would be built adjacent to the toll plaza, which are the administration building, aAmbulance, police and fire station, laboratories, generator rooms, weight bridge control room and toll station.

The bridge was built by the China Railway Construction Engineering Group (CRCEG) and the China Railway Major Bridge Group (CRMBG).

The bridge, which has dramatically changed Dar es Salaam's skyline, has become a tourist magnet for city residents, who have thronged the infrastructure since its soft opening on Saturday.

The opening of the bridge caused a buzz in social media in Tanzania and elsewhere in the east African region, with several people taking to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to hail the nation's newest icon.

"Wow ... at least one can see their tax mula (money) ain't going down the drain, unlike...," said Dennis Muthui from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Kigamboni residents are already enjoying an immediate impact from the opening of the bridge in terms of reduced road traffic congestion.

"It was about 27km drive this morning from home to office, (which took about 1 hour thanks to Nyerere Bridge). It used to take about 3 hours (to reach the office) via ferry by car," said Irenei Kiria, a resident of Kigamboni.

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