The Source of the Nile Bridge is to be commissioned on Wednesday by president Museveni as chief guest, accompanied by a high-level delegation from Japanese government that sponsored the building of the bridge at 80 percent cost.
Since its construction started in April 2014, the bridge has simply been referred to as ‘The New Nile Bridge’ until cabinet chaired by Museveni days ago zeroed on “The Source of the Nile Bridge”, having asked people from Busoga to name the bridge.It will replace the Nalubaale Bridge, which was built in 1954.
The bridge is located at Njeru, a suburb of Jinja across the Victoria Nile, between the source of the Nile to the south and Nalubaale Power Station (old bridge) to the north. This is adjacent and immediately north of where the Uganda Railways line crosses the Victoria Nile. It is located on the proposed Kampala–Jinja Expressway, approximately 82 kilometres (51 mi), by road, east of Kampala,
The Nalubaale Bridge is one of the only two road crossings across the Victoria Nile in Uganda, the other crossing being the Karuma Bridge, approximately 285 kilometres (177 mi), by road, to the north.The road crossing at Jinja is of national and regional significance because it is part of the “Northern Corridor”, a highway across east and central Africa linking the Indian Ocean at Mombasa, Kenya, to the Atlantic Ocean at Matadi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The old bridge, commissioned in 1954, is in bad structural shape and has outlived its expected lifespan. The new bridge will carry a four-lane dual highway with pedestrian sidewalks. It will be the longest bridge in Uganda at 525 metres (1,722 ft) long and 22.9 metres (75 ft) wide. The feasibility studies were conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
In November 2013, the Uganda National Roads Authority awarded the construction contract to the Zenitaka Corporation of Japan and Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company of South Korea. Construction was expected to last four years. On January 28, 2014, the construction was launched by Museveni.
As of August 2017, the construction was 40 percent complete, according to the bridge contractors. During an inspection tour of the construction site by the Japanese ambassador to Uganda, the contractors revealed that they had started using steel, after the product met the contractors’ standards.
Other infrastructure developments associated with the new bridge, include a “roadside station” or service centre on the Jinja side, which will host a restaurant, supermarket, public toilets, and an exhibition area. The station will also accommodate a chamber for bridge maintenance, security and an emergency response unit.
The development also calls for surface roads on the Njeru side to connect to the Nyenga-Njeru Road and the proposed Kampala–Jinja Expressway as well as the existing Kampala–Jinja Highway and the Mukono–Kayunga–Njeru Road. Road connections to the town of Jinja will be constructed, east of the road service centre.
As of 28 September 2018, the major physical construction had concluded. Minor electrical and surface markings remained, with official commissioning of the completed bridge planned for October 17, 2018.
The total cost of the New Jinja Bridge was budgeted at US$125 million. The government of Japan financed 80 percent of the cost, in the form of a soft loan of US$100 million at an annual interest rate of 0.01 percent, repayable in ten years but extendable to forty years. The government of Uganda’s funding is US $25 million (20 percent), out of its own coffers.
In March 2018, the Ugandan parliament authorized a supplementary loan from JICA, amounting to JPY: 3.891 billion (Shs133 billion or US $36.721), to complete this project. The bridge was completed and is to be officially commissioned on 17 October 2018. The cost of construction was quoted at US$112 million (about Shs41.1 billion) and has a projected lifespan of 120 years.