In the last year, two people were killed and seven were injured while walking over the logs that currently cross the Mukungwa River near the north-western Rwandan village.
The team of volunteers is spending two weeks building the new span to provide safe, year-round access to schools, markets, and health-care facilities for the 12,000 residents of Kukibuye. They have partnered with Bridges to Prosperity, a US non-profit that specialises in designing and building footbridges to improve the lives of isolated rural communities. Arup and Bechtel Group Foundation contributed approximately US$59,000 to cover the cost of materials and labour, while individual team members carried out their own fundraising to contribute an additional US$7,900 to the effort.
The people of Kukibuye have already prepared the foundations for the 42m-long suspension bridge in advance of the construction phase, which is currently under way. The team is working in close collaboration with the community throughout construction to share knowledge on building safe, efficient and locally appropriate footbridges.
Phil Borowiec, Arup engineer and Bridges to Prosperity trustee, said: “Arup have worked with Bridges to Prosperity for the last five years to help build these essential links that reconnect communities and provide safe passage for so many people. It’s a tremendously rewarding experience working with the local community and seeing first-hand the significant positive impact the bridge makes to their daily lives. We’re really pleased to partner with Bechtel this year, and we look forward to continuing our great work together.”
“Bechtel volunteers bring extensive experience and passion to this project for the citizens of Kukibuye,” said Charlene Wheeless, Bechtel’s principal vice president and manager, global corporate affairs. “Our employee volunteers have partnered with Engineers Without Borders to help improve the lives of local citizens on projects in nine countries—bringing needed infrastructure to thousands of people. We are delighted to engage in this first assignment with Bridges to Prosperity and to team with Arup in this important work that will have a lasting impact on the village.”
Above: Claude Munyaneza from Bridges to Prosperity with Arup's Victoria Richardson and Bechtel's Muhamed AbouBakr