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    Friday, 23 February 2018

    Disaster for 500 pupils as Mberengwa Bridge is washed away again


    MBERENGWA – At least 500 pupils from Chegato Primary, Chegato High and Ruzengwe Secondary have not been going to school for the past two weeks after a temporary bridge built across Mwenezi River was washed away by recent floods.
    The temporary bridge was put together last year after heavy floods destroyed the Jeka Bridge in March 2017, a strong structure built by the colonialists in 1957.
    Chiefs and villagers bemoaned the lethargic approach to the problem by Government following high powered visits to the region by the then Minister of Local Government Public works, Rural and Urban Development Saviour Kasukuwere, former Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi who was accompanied by a team from Jeka Business Centre and the Minister of Transport and Infrastracture Development Joram Gumbo who all made promises to quickly rebuild Jeka Bridge.
    The bridge was swept away on Monday last week and this has not only affected school children from Chief Mudavanhu's area but it has affected villagers who need to access Jeka Hospital and Jeka Township for their grocery needs.
    The most critically affected in terms of health services are pregnant women. For health services the area affected is bigger as it includes people from Chief Mposi, Mapiravana and Chingoma.
    Chief Mudavanhu had no kind words for politicians.
    He said that Gumbo at one time made a public statement to the effect that $6.8m had been found for the reconstruction of the bridge but almost a year has gone by now without anything.
    He also said it was a shame that Kasukuwere and Sekeramayi flew to Mberengwa together with United Nations officials and promised urgent repair to the bridge and they went and never came back.
    "This bridge is the nexus for all the four constituencies of Mberengwa (North, East, South and West). Its destruction has caused transport and link problems for the whole district and this means people are now travelling hundreds of kilometers where they just needed to travel 20 or 50km to Jeka Business Center," said Chief Mudavanhu
    Midlands Provincial Education Director, Agnes Gudo confirmed the plight of the children and discouraged the children from crossing the flooded and crocodile infested Mwenezi River. She said that her department had since made arrangements for affected pupils to join Maringambizi and Ruvabvu schools where they don't need to cross Mwenezi River. The pupils will go to these schools until such a time that the problem at Jeka is resolved.
    "The Ministry has arranged that those pupils and teachers from Mudavanhu area attend school and work at schools such as Ruvabvu until the matter has been resolved," she said.
    Gumbo said that Government has managed to assemble steel bars for a bale bridge that will be constructed by the army in partnership with his ministry. This bridge will take less than 60 days to complete.
    The bale bridge is a temporary bridge made of steel usually constructed by the army for emergency purposes.
    He also said that the main bridge will be constructed soon afterwards at a cost of $4 million.
    "Our engineers are o the ground together with army officials to start construction of a bale bridge that will be used temporarily before the construction of the main bridge," said Gumbo.
    The disaster has seen ECD pupils walking over 10 kilometers to alternative schools at Ruvabvu while secondary pupils will walk around 17 kilometers to Maringambizi Secondary.
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