The European Union under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) is constructing the Mabang Bridge over the Ribbi River along the Songo-Moyamba road that leads to southern part of Sierra Leone.
The construction of the bridge falls under lot 2 of the 48 million Euro project titled “Moyamba-Moyamba Junction Roads and Bridges” that also includes a 32.8 km Moyamba Town and Moyamba Junction road, 36-metre span Gbangbama Bridge, 42-metre span Moyamba Bridge and the 163-metre length Magbele Bridge-all funded under the 11th EDF.
The new 231 metre span Mabang steel bridge is two-lane with concrete deck across the Ribbi River. The works also include the construction of 312 metres paved access roads on either side of the new bridge.
Construction works to complete the Mabang Bridge are ongoing. Drilling for abutment 2 has started and welding of steel components on site is almost complete, concrete casting activities for piles at P02 are now completed and launching of steel beam is expected to take place soon. Overall work progress is 77% complete
Eight years since the Mabang Bridge collapsed on the 22nd February 2013, communities living along this route have been faced with series of constraints. The collapse of the bridge has caused extreme difficulties for people to market their goods and do business as usual.
Residents along these communities say the bridge is important to their trade, health, academic and social activities; it links many towns, villages and chiefdoms between Port Loko and Moyamba districts. One of the Drivers plying the Songo-Moyamba road said people in that part of the country are engaged in various commercial activities, and the bridge is an essential infrastructure for their daily survival and development programmes.
Town Chief at Mabang village, Chief Ibrahim Kargbo, said since the collapse of the bridge, eight years ago, there are currently no vibrant commercial activities going-on in that part of the country. He said that this has created lot of sufferings for majority of the people living in communities along the Song-Moyamba road, as most of them depend on trading goods from Freetown to communities between Songo and Moyamba Town for their livelihoods.
Chief Ibrahim Kargbo also said lots of people have lost their lives including school children and pregnant women by boat accidents across the Ribi River in attempt to access schools and hospitals.
He cited a case that happened last year when a pupil who was taking exams in one of the community schools across the river got drowned by boat accident one morning, and that incident discouraged most parents to allow their kids to go across the river to attend schools, especially during the rainy season when the river is rough and the water level is high.
Aminata Kamara, a young business woman who buys most of her goods from the capital city Freetown and trade them in villages along the Songo-Moyamba road, said they are almost cut off from Freetown because of the collapse of the bridge, except for some of them who can brave it across the river using dugout canoes, or the old and only hand-pulled ferry as means of transportation across the Ribbi River.
Very soon, the new Mabang Bridge will enhance trade and commerce along those communities and they will no longer endanger their lives by using canoes to access other towns and villages, including various chiefdoms in Moyamba and the western urban districts.
The bridge which boundary’s Koya chiefdom in Port Loko and Ribi chiefdom in Moyamba districts has been a major infrastructural challenge since its collapse for people in that part of the country before commencement of construction of the bridge on 26th March, 2018, with funds from the European Union.
When the bridge would have been completed by the end of this year, it will contribute significantly to relaunching the social and economic growth of people in that part of the country, and it will ensure a safe and reliable route.
The new bridge infrastructure will serve to reduce travel time, vehicle operating costs, and accidents between Moyamba and Western Urban districts
The Moyamba-Moyamba Junction roads and bridges rehabilitation project is considered to be one of the largest infrastructure development project funded by the EU in Sierra Leone