Real excitement this morning as our project started in earnest. After the 15 minute very bumpy drive to site we arrived and were given a walk through of the village and the site by James, a B2P engineer who is based in Uganda. The landscapes are absolutely stunning with mountains and greenery everywhere.
We went to meet the team of workers, each of us giving our introductions which were translated from English to Liguisi through a local interpreter. Interestingly there was a higher proportion of women workers than we would normally expect in the UK.
We continued with a meeting with Erica, another B2P engineer and the foremen for the project. Meanwhile the workers began with earthworks for the bridge approach and construction of staircases to more inaccessible parts of the site; it’s very muddy and slippy here!
In the afternoon we kicked off the work proper with the teams split. Some of us marking up deck planks and nailer beams and the others checking the value for the towers and beginning to hoist the cables to achieve the correct sag. It’s really physical, muddy work but hugely enjoyable and the workers here are impressive, they progress things very quickly without fuss. The working day is normally 8 until 5 but the first day we were out a bit longer and by the time we got back, a cold Nile (a ugandan beer) and some traditional food was more than welcome.
Day 5 continued in a similar vein. We achieved the correct cable sag by the middle of the day. By day’s end we had all of the steel crossbeams attached to the wooden nailers (crossbeams) and the deck plans pre-drilled.
The day began with a real highlight, Eddie Leach’s stretch and flex. It’s essentially an early morning warm-up, but came as something of a surprise to everyone on site. In another unscripted moment Alberto, from IABSE, rubbed raw chille in his eyes over lunch and, much to the amusement of the workers, we frantically tried to to flush it out and restore his sight!!
Again as, I type this we are all pretty knackered but really enjoying the experience so far! We’re making real progress now.