Residents of Yakusari, Black Bush Polder (BBP) say that though three children have fallen from an access bridge that has long been in a dilapidated state the authorities have yet to make good on their promise to repair it.
Residents told this newspaper that the bridge collapsed after about 17 drainage and irrigation workers stood on it at the same time whilst sharpening their cutlasses. They said the bridge started to “lean on one side and all of them run off.” Soon after the incident, residents said they informed Regional Chairman Zulfikar Mustapha about the incident during one of his weekly meetings there.
Mustapha sent officers from the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) to examine the bridge and he had instructed them to “nail a fine strip across to strengthen. But then after that planks from half of the bridge fall off in the water.” Residents said Mustapha promised to provide materials to fix the bridge but they would prefer to have it rebuilt. “We need a new bridge because the post foundation is rotten and a lot of people have to use this access,” residents said.
In an invited comment Mustapha told this newspaper that the bridge was “vandalized.” He said the bridge, an access bridge to homes and farms, commonly referred to as the ‘Field Eight Bridge’, is not in the NDC’s budget but he made some materials available last Thursday from the regional budget and that the bridge should be in the process of being fixed.
According to the chairman, a number of bridges in BBP are deteriorating and $2.7M of materials has been purchased to renovate them. But yesterday morning residents said no materials were sent to fix that bridge. They also said enquiries at the NDC revealed that the materials would be used to renovate a nearby bridge and that old boards from that bridge would be used to fix the one that collapsed.
They also said that the authorities had promised to have the bridge rehabilitated before school reopened but that did not happen and as such “Three children done fall off the bridge.” Residents said the authorities should treat the situation as an emergency and “don’t wait until a child drown and then hustle to fix it.”
A young man said recently his six-year-old sister fell into the trench as she was returning home from school. He said he had gone to the school to pick her up and was walking in front of her on the bridge when he heard a loud splash. The man said he looked back in time to see her struggling to get out of the water and he grabbed her. Savita Ayana said her five-year-old son was crossing the bridge alone and he slipped and fell into the trench. She said a relative noticed “when he go down one time in the water and come up back and he run and pull he out.” This newspaper also learnt that another child had lost his balance as he was crossing and fell off the bridge. Luckily he was able to hold onto the rails and scream for help.