THE pillars supporting the Kafue Hook Bridge on the Lusaka-Mongu road have developed cracks, prompting the Road Development Agency (RDA) to quickly commence maintenance works to prevent it from collapsing.
The bridge, which is in the Kafue National Park, links Lusaka, Central and Western provinces and has never undergone maintenance since it was constructed 52 years ago.
Kafue Hook Bridge, together with the Lusaka-Mongu road, was constructed with the support of the Chinese government and commissioned by former President Kenneth Kaunda on May 26, 1963.
RDA senior public relations manager Loyce Saili said when she inspected the bridge on Monday that K147 million has been set aside to replace the five columns supporting the bridge.
Mrs Saili allayed fears of the bridge collapsing, saying it is still “very safe” to use by motorists because all it needs is maintenance.
“We have already awarded China Henan International Corporation a contract valued at K147 million to replace the cracked columns and build new ones. The contract is expected to run for 24 months,” Mrs Saili said.
She said the cracks were noticed as late as last year and RDA is fully aware of the situation, hence the decision to start maintenance works.
The Chinese firm is currently mobilising and is expected to move on site in the next few weeks.
She said citizens should not be alarmed because the bridge is still safe and not anywhere near collapse despite it needing maintenance.
“Let me also take this opportunity to assure our citizens that the bridge is still very safe for usage although it needs maintenance. You see, this bridge has never received any maintenance works since it was built 52 years ago” Mrs Saili said.
She said traffic flow will be restricted when works commence, adding that further details will be availed soon.
Mrs Saili also said RDA, in conjunction with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will launch a two-year bridge maintenance programme.
The programme, which will be fully sponsored by JICA, will involve maintenance and improving all major bridges in the country.
Mrs Saili promised to give further details of the bridge maintenance project before the end of this week.