New River Nile bridge embraces local content

By Philip Wafula

JINJA- At the weekend, several of dump trucks, each loaded with 25 tonnes, were driven on the new Nile Bridge in Jinja to test its strength.

At some point, they were parked for some time as engineers conducted the static test to determine the carriage worthiness of the new bridge ahead of its commissioning on October 17.

But behind the show by the Uganda National Roads Authority was the untold story of how local content was embraced in the construction of the 525-metre facility.

In 2014, government came up with a policy dubbed ‘Buy Uganda, Build Uganda’ (BUBU), that is aimed at “promoting the consumption of locally produced goods and services”.

The policy aims at increasing the consumption of local products through public procurement and encouraging the private sector to consume locally originating products thus increasing the participation of the locally established firms in domestic trade.

Prism Construction Company Limited, a local firm, was sub-contracted to supply readily mixed concrete, equipment and transportation services to the new Nile Bridge project.

The main contractors were Zenitaka Corporation from Japan, Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company from South Korea ande Ultracom from Malaysia, as the main sub-contractor.

According to Mr Gordian Oketch, a materials technologist at Prism Construction Company Limited, key innovations were employed in concrete production, notably the ‘washing’ of sand to get it rid of clay and other organic particles.

“If there are organic and clay particles, it reduces the strength of the concrete. When mixing concrete, there is what they call heat of hydration; so, when the original material for making concrete has got high temperature, the concrete cannot perform proper bonding,” he said.

Mr Oketch also explained that ice was used instead of chillers to stabilise the temperatures of the concrete.

In total, Prism Construction Company supplied more than 40,000 cubic meters of concrete to the project, mainly due to the availability of two batching plants, cement pumps, agitators, wheel loaders and standby generators – all procured from Germany.

Mr Maurice Kertho, the Prism Construction chief operating officer, said they have been able to come this far with the local construction content through acquisition of new technology and having highly qualified personnel to execute the works.

Mr Richard Okura, a plant manager, said with close collaboration with Zenitaka experts, environmental challenges were catered for.
Mr Mark Ssali, the Unra communications manager, at the weekend said the Shs390b project was all set for commissioning.

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