Man builds bridge across Mathioya river

Thursday, June 8th, 2023 07:50 | By
The 23-metre long makeshift bridge along Mathioya river weaved by a volunteer to help residents cross the river safely. PHOTO/Wangari Njuguna

For years, residents from Kamwaha village in Kiharu, Murang’a county have been gambling with their lives by swim or walk across the vast Mathioya river to avoid walking all the way to Murang’a- Sagana road bridge to get to the other side.

In some instances, however, lives were lost as people drowned especially during the rainy season when the river got swollen.

The residents however got relief after one of them volunteered to make a temporary bridge to help them cross the river safely.

Shorten distance

Twety-six-year-old Peter Waithaka saw the agony the residents underwent and volunteered to help them out.

Waithaka, who is a farmer, was also being forced to walk for a distance of 20 kilometres to get to his farm which is right across the river. At times, in a bid to shorten the distance, he would swim across the river to get to the farm but only when the water levels were low.

“I am a good swimmer and I could easily get across the river but the majority of the people here cannot swim and I thought of a way to help them” he said.

“This section of the river is very wide and deep and people have drowned as they try to swim across it” he said.

Using money from his pocket, he bought the materials that he would require to make a hanging bridge for the residents to use. 

The bridge is made of steel cables tied on trees on one end and strong pole on the other end with a long ladder being used as the floor and used motorcycle tyres serve as the guard rail.

He says the 23 meters long bridge is however not meant for kids as they can easily slip through the stepping wooden pieces and fall into the water.

“It cost me roughly Sh40,000 to set up the bridge and its open for use by the members of the public” he said.

Interestingly, Waithaka is a class eight drop out, but he says he has general knowledge that allows him to come up with such innovation.

Approximately 70 people from the neighbouring villages of Karia-ini, Kigetu-ini, Kamwaha and Kabuta use the bridge daily on their way to Murang’a town which is a few kilometres away.

Waithaka however says he has to be on the lookout for the young people who come to the bridge to cross the river for fun which could end up tragically.

Can easily break

“The bridge can only accommodate 15 people at a time but sometimes you find youths who want to walk on it in large groups and it can easily break” he said.

He also appealed to the area Mp and the governor to help set up a permanent bridge which is much safer adding that the makeshift one may not be in use for a long time.

 Evans Kinyua from Kabuta says he uses the bridge everyday as he goes to work and while returning home in the evening.

He lauded Waithaka for coming up with the idea of the makeshift bridge which saves them the agony of having to walk for long distances.

Kinyua however says this work should have been done by the county or national government because they have more resources to make a better structure.

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