Bridge collapse at Ndhiwa, shutters farmers and traders hope.
Riat bridge was constructed on River Kuja in 1980 by the British military. It has served as the main artery between Oria market in Uriri Constituency, Migori County and Homabay County.
The 41 year-old Oria bridge collapsed after a lorry ferrying sugarcane to Sukari industries plunged into the river at 4am when the bridge gave way.
Eye witnesses said the bridge collapsed due to the weight of the lorry and its load. The sugar miller confirmed one of their lorries was on the bridge and was headed to Homabay to deliver sugarcane.
This bridge has played a major role to the residents of both counties as it connects them to the Sugar industry (Sukari industry) and a famous livestock market Oria, which has always been their harvesting field.
Oria is the main livestock market for traders from Uriri,Ndhiwa, Nyatike, Awendo, Rongo, parts of Suba North and Homabay constituencies.
The county government of Migori has always rip a lot through the tax collected from Oria market.
Being that it is one of counties with both large scale and small scale sugarcane farming, Most of the residents of this county depend on sugarcane plantation for their day to day lives.
Most of the residents are farmers and have all their breath in their sugarcane farms, a reality has now turned to stalemate.
Migori county has only two known sugarcane factories that’s the fainting Sony Sugar industry and the crawling Trans Mara sugar collection site.
Due to the staggering of Sony Sugar, most of the farmers have always depended and laid their trust in Sukari Industries in Riat, Homabay county as their company for the supply of their sugarcane and therefore most of them are registered with the industry.
Their way to the industry is now full of hopelessness. No solution for the transportation of their sugarcane to the factory. The worst of it all is that, some of their sugarcane had been cut yet to be ferried to the factory but now they have to dry in the farms since there is no transportation means to the factory.
The factory has facilitated the residents with a boat which is to help those who would like to cross the roaring River Kuja.
This still cannot stand to be a solution to the sugarcane farmers and livestock traders who cannot use the boat to ferry their livestock to Oria or their sugarcane to the factory.
According to Milton Orwe, the spokesperson of the informal Ndhiwa Bunge la wananchi, trade has been affected by the collapse of the bridge.
Orwa said the bridge was also used by Ndhiwa residents to access health services in Migori.
Thousands of traders from Ndhiwa, Nyatike and parts of Uriri constituencies who have been using the bridge to access Oria market are affected.
They are now forced to look for an alternative or either spend some money to cross the river.
The boat given by the Sukari industry is only meant for passengers but not goods, therefore the traders are forced to pay for another boat to ferry their goods which slashes their profit.
According to Joram Okola, the secretary of the Luo Council of elders in Homabay County, many people have lost their sources of livelihood due to the collapse of the bridge.
He said that Oria market is where livestock farmers and traders from a number of constituencies in Migori and Homabay county buy transact their business.
He added that parents who rely on the livestock trade may not pay school fees for their children due to the collapse of the bridge.
According the residents who said they have petitioned the Kenya Rural Roads Authority to act on the bridge and it is unfortunate it has collapsed before any action was taken,the government is to be blamed for failing to repair the bridge.
The combined effort promised by leaders who were present at the scene including Migori governor and the Sukari industry leaders, has to be hastened to avert the projected famine in the affected constituencies.
Any falter in action will bring a long-term effect which may not be easily solved.