Day 13 – Inauguration day

14th June

The day is finally here, it’s hard to believe so much has happened in the last week and a half!

Tired with lack of sleep and the physical effort over the last few days, yet  with real anticipation we drove down to site early. Today was to be a full day of  speeches dances and celebrations.  Well not quite. We’ve discovered that not everything runs to time here, and today was no exception. The MC finally started up a full three hours after the scheduled 9am start. But hey, what’s three hours between friends, and what followed was well worth the wait.

There were lengthy and lively speeches from local politicians and from bridge committee members. There were poems and dances from local schoolchildren, there was dancing with locals and even a mock (thank god) circumcision ceremony, though I can’t for the life of me think why this was appropriate.  The ceremony concluded with a procession to open the bridge officially and it was like nothing I’ve seen before.  Hundreds of people crossing the bridge, watching and enjoying the day.

It was the perfect conclusion to our project. We came here to build a bridge that would radically transform and improve the lives of the community. Today we saw clearly the impact our work will have, and how appreciative everyone was. Brides always bring people together, and we always have a sense of pride in our role in creating lasting engineering structures, but seldom do we get to appreciate the impact they have , close up, face to face. Wonderful!

namawakulu bridge
The team, on the bridge, without the rain, for once!
Share

Days 11-12 Getting the job done (in the rain)

Namawakulu brishe decking
12th June

There’s much still to do before inauguration of the bridge in only three days time. There seems to be no let up in the oppressive humid weather, and lengthy torrential tropical downpours continually delay progress. But that’s what we signed for.

We’re focusing on the fencing today. We manage this by the team carrying fencing onto deck  and then sliding it into position. We had to drill the wooden kerbs at the base of the fence and screw these into the deck. It’s an unusual technique but made necessary by the peculiar geography. It involves a massive team effort, and the first time B2P have used this method for installing fencing.

Wojciech and Eddie checking slope stability monitoring with wooden stakes.  B2P were keen to make the most of Ramboll’s view on the geotechnical issues on site so this a way we could really help them out.

After lunch a lengthy period of heavy rain kept us in the tent for a while and we all made the most of this, period to have a rest.  Once the rain let up slightly the community workers got back outside and started work on backfilling the nearside abutment with large rocks.

backfilling the abutment with large rocks

Meanwhile we set about bending the wire fence over the hand rail cable. again this was a big team effort and requires a lot of coordination from the team.

13th June

Today is the day that we must finish everything on the bridge ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration. It was a great day when everyone really pulled together and put in an olympic sized effort to get the job done.

Final tasks included backfilling with rock the right hand side cable pit and pouring the infill slab. Fortunately this didn’t take nearly as long as the other side because we the concrete mixer was a lot closer to the pit. The fencing had to be bent and tied with small cable ties to hold it in place.

Namawakulu bridge - Concreting RHS Slab
Concreting RHS slab

A lot of other small tasks had to be completed including fixing wooden treads to the bridge, cutting off dangerous point rebar ends and trying to do all this during a familiar Ugandan downpour in the middle of the day.

Fencing bent and held in place with small cable ties

As light started to fade it slowly dawned on us that we had done it. Finished! Euphoric, yet utterly exhausted we made our way home to rest. Well not quite. With job done we were joined by all our coworkers at the homestay for celebratory beers, laughs, music, and a chance for them to show us some funky dance moves! Needless to say I was too tired…

Share

Day 10 (11th June)

Yesterday was rest day, much needed after an exhausting 6 days last week

Our planned activities for today were checking and correcting the sag differential between the two cables by re-winching to tighten or loosen the cables as appropriate. The second planned task was pouring of the concrete infill slab at the far end of the bridge. Continue reading “Day 10 (11th June)”

Share

Meet the team

TeamXavier Echegaray Jaile
Role: Bridge Design Engineer
Role at Bridge Site: Project Lead

Xavier is a passionate Bridge Engineer with over 4 years of professional experience. He gained a first-class 5-year MEng degree at UPC Barcelona Tech. and is currently the PM and Design Lead for several bridge projects. Born in Catalonia, Xavier has lived in Mallorca, Mexico, Barcelona and London. A keen sailor and scuba diver since he was young, he has travelled across the Mediterranean Sea and has developed a great taste for adventure.

Edward Fraser
Role: Graduate Engineer
Role at Bridge Site: Communications Coordinator

Edward is a Graduate Engineer for Ramboll and has been working in the bridges team for one and a half years. He’s been involved in a variety of projects including structural design and assessment bridges, gantries and pumping stations. Prior to this he studied an MEng in Civil Engineering at the University of Portsmouth, completing a year-long placement with Prysmian Cables and a summer placement with Ramboll.  In his spare time, he likes to travel and to play sports, and this project will be the first time he leaves Europe!

Tim Prosser
Role: Managing Consultant, Environment Health and Safety (EHS)
Role at Bridge Site: Safety Manager

Tim is an EHS specialist with 12 years’ experience managing global compliance and due diligence projects to help clients realise their EHS goals. Tim has proudly led corporate charitable initiatives in the past and is excited about continuing this with Bridges to Prosperity. Tim’s passions including travelling, football, fishing and photography.

Wojciech Szewczak
Role: Bridge Engineer
Role at Bridge Site: Logistics Lead

Wojciech is a bridge engineer with 4 years of experience in the civil engineering industry. He has earned a civil engineering degree from Technical University of Wroclaw in Poland, completed an international internship at University of Minho in Portugal and worked on multidisciplinary engineering projects in the Algeria, Denmark, Hong Kong, UK and US.

Eddie Leach
Role: Bridge Engineer
Uganda Project Role: Construction Manager

Eddie is a passionate Bridge Engineer with over 5 years’ experience. He has worked on various bridge designs, internationally in Norway and on a construction site. Eddie was born in Mexico, is an avid cyclist and skier. Eddie plans to arrange a 2-week cycling trip across France this summ

Share