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Relief as well-wisher helps build footbridge in Murang’a

Monday February 3 2020

Gaichanjiru wooden footbridge

A woman crosses the new wooden footbridge built on River Ndera with the help of a well-wisher in Gaichanjiru village, Murang’a County. Residents sais they have suffered for years due to lack of a proper bridge. PHOTO | NDUNG’U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDUNG'U GACHANE
By NDUNG'U GACHANE
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Residents of Kihara and Gaichanjiru in Maragua, Murang’a County, have decried the sorry state of infrastructure in the villages which heavily depend on each other in socio-economic activities.

The two villages lack roads, electricity, water and a reliable mobile phone communication network.

This makes it difficult for the villagers to communicate with friends and relatives, forcing them to move to higher grounds to gain phone network connectivity.

NO SCHOOL

Gaichanjiru village has no public primary school and the pupils have to cross River Ndera to go to Kihara Primary School.

Parents have to often carry their children on their backs to help them across the river, especially during the rainy season.

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Residents recently narrated to the Nation how they carry their dead ones for four kilometres by hand as the roads leading to their village are impassable by vehicles.

“During the rainy seasons, parents of pupils who go to Kihara Primary School -- four kilometres away -- have to ferry them on their backs since the only alternative is to use the 12 km stretch from Gaichanjiru to Gakungu and then to Kihara where we pay at least Sh200,” said Mr David Gakura, a resident.

A man demonstrates how the youth cross Ndera
A man demonstrates how the youth cross Ndera River by swinging across using tree branches to go to work to Kakuzi farm. The new wooden footbridge has saved them this agony. PHOTO | NDUNG’U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

DROWNINGS

The residents said that since 2006, at least five people, three of them children, have lost their lives while trying to cross the river to the neighbouring village.

“My son died while trying to cross the river to visit my neighbour. We have been urging the authorities to build a bridge but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. If there had been a bridge, I would be seeing my son today,” said Ms Mary Wangui.

Simon Ngure told the Nation that most of the residents work at the neighbouring Kakuzi Limited and, to access the farm, young men climb trees at the banks of river and then bend them while on top and jump over to cross the river.

“Most of us can’t afford to pay for a boda-boda to take us to work. We have, therefore, improvised a way to access Kihara village where Kakuzi company is located since it is just four kilometres away,” Mr Ngure said.

POLITICIANS

He said politicians only visit the area during campaigns armed with relief food and blankets to entice the villagers to vote for them.

“They will come again in 2022 with relief food and blankets and then promise us that they will build the road once elected. They take advantage of our poverty and only see us as voting machines,” Mr Ngure said.

Aware of the woes facing locals, a resident, Mr Antony Chege, mobilised the community to build a temporary wooden footbridge.

This came as a relief to the villagers who have endured years of suffering, risking drowning as they cross the river.

RELIEF

“This is a relief to us. We can now use the bridge to access Ciumbu market and to access our farms. We hope government officials will borrow a leaf from this committed resident,” said one villager.

Mr Chege said he had visited the village for a sports tournament when he learnt about the sorry state of affairs and teamed up with locals to build the footbridge.

“It is shocking that in this day and age, there is a village in Murang’a, a county which is part of the Nairobi Metropolitan, without electricity, roads and bridges while politicians are busy politicking. They should wake up and work for their people,” the well-wisher said as he launched the footbridge.

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