Locals from Bugobi Sub-county in Namutumba District are smiles after commencing with the construction of the 11km-Kisiro-Butaleja Bridge.
Residents say, optimism is rife that once the bridge is completed, business in the area will be boosted and transport eased.
Mr Oboth Owino, a resident of Kisiro Village, on Tuesday said for many years, transport along the bridge has been difficult, and one could sail across the waters with cargo using a boat, which authorities later banned after deeming them highly risky.
“The bridge will not only ease the transportation of people, but also of agricultural products such as maize, watermelon, groundnuts and rice to market centres,” he said.
Mr Kenneth Isabirye, a rice farmer in Kisiro Swamp, said many farmers are looking forward to reaping benefits that will accrue from the bridge.
“Trucker drivers who usually ferry agricultural products from Namutumba to Butaleja will now have a shorter distance to cover. In the past, one could connect to Butaleja from Namutumba via the Budumba Swamp, which is quite expensive,” he noted.
Ms Winnie Mutesi, another farmer, said prices for agricultural products had dropped due to poor state of the bridge and that they had fallen victim to middlemen who took advantage of the impassable bridge to buy their products cheaply.
“With the modern bridge in offing, prices for agricultural products are going to increase and more businesses such as lodges and fuel pumps, among others, will sprout,” she said.
Construction of the Shs27b Bridge was started three months ago by Excel Construction Company.
The government-funded project is expected to take two years. The Namutumba District Chairperson, Mr Saleh Kumbuga, said construction works were supposed to start early this year, but they were delayed over lack of funds.
Mr Kumbuga noted that the bridge is a major link connecting Namutumba to Butaleja District and it comes with a number of benefits tailored to alleviate poverty in the area.
He further appealed to residents of Kisiro, Bugobi Town Council and Bulange Sub-county to take advantage of the bridge to engage in income-generating activities and improve their livelihoods.
The Bulange Sub-county chairperson, Mr Yakub Kasoma, said the bridge will be a driving force in developing Namutumba and Butaleja districts. He added that as leaders, they are happy because businessmen and women are soon going to start ‘flying over’ the swamp as they cross to Butaleja District.
Ms Mariam Naigaga, the Namutumba District Woman MP, said the bridge will ease movement and foster investment in the districts (Namutumba and Butaleja), as well as provide a link for rapid development.
She said Kisiro and other neighbouring villages have been the poorest in Namutumba District because they have been a hard-to-reach areas due to poor road network.