Kenya: Chinese-built bridge collapses, days after presidential inspection

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A $10 million bridge being built by Chinese engineers in Kenya has collapsed, injuring 28 people, a matter of days after President Uhuru Kenyatta made a personal inspection visit.

The 100-metre bridge, which is being built by China Overseas Engineering Group – a subsidiary of global construction giant China Railway – collapsed on Monday. Construction is being halted while an investigation is underway but one project manager told the press they are “baffled” by the incident.

 

‘Very unusual’

Project manager Jerome Hua told Kenyan newspaper the Nation that the company’s engineers have no idea what could have caused the collapse.

“This is very unusual because all the standards and specifications required by the employer were met,” he said. “We have experienced engineers and we are equally baffled by what happened. We hope to find the root cause of the problem and rectify the matter.”

The incident comes at a time when Chinese-built projects are under scrutiny. In 2009, parts of roads built by Chinese companies were washed away in heavy rains and a hospital was evacuated in 2010, among fears it might collapse. Both incidents were widely covered in the media, fuelling concerns over the quality of projects built by Chinese firms.

 

Bad news for Uhuru


The collapse comes as President Uhuru Kenyatta is on the campaign for reelection in August. His government has been criticised by main rival Raila Odinga for mega-projects of this nature and Odinga was quick to capitalise.

“This is a good sign of how they will tumble. When the monkey’s day to die draws nigh, all trees become slippery,” he told a rally in Siaya county.

Worse still, the collapse happened just 11 days after the president visited the site for inspection, giving the project his seal of approval. Prior to the collapse, Kenyatta took to Twitter claiming the bridge “will significantly reduce deaths” and improve access for those trying to cross the river.

 

Featured image: By CRCC – website of China Railway Construction Corporation: www.crcc.cn, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46017022

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.