Days 5-8 Getting into gear


Jian Fong

Day 5 – Progress, progress and more progress

The team made fantastic progress today. We were able to achieve 100 percent of what we wanted to achieve and it’s not often you can say that. Main progress include erection of the west tower, getting all the deck cut into correct sizes and painted. 30 percent of the suspenders bars are now bended, and 40 percent of the cross beam bolted to the nailer.

Roser and Gustav had a first try on climbing the scaffolding tower where they assisted in hoisting the main cables through the tower. With the absence of heavy machinery, we were astonished by how communication, teamwork and and effort could achieve the same result.

Four 93m heavy cables were hoisted and connected through the east tower, then carried across the river and again hoisted through the east tower. Hard work up in the air, made safer by Sulabth and Gustav commanding the sequence from the ground.

Apart from setting up time-lapse and interviews, I focused on supervising labour at the workstation to ensure the production line for the deck and crossbeam are ready.

We ended the day with an interactive session with the local children and they managed to remember all our names. But not the other way around!

Day 6  The market, the cable and food

You’ll not be surprised to learn that working hard under the sun builds up your appetite. Gustav, Maureen from B2p and I went to food shopping at the nearest town, Muhanga, early this morning. As you’d expect it was totally different from the weekly supermarket trek, and was a great experience walking through the buzzing market with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The rest of the team stayed on site, primarily winching the cables that were connected through the east and west towers. It should be noted that getting the sag correct for the main cables is a delicate procedure if you are to ensure forces are distributed correctly and behave as designed. Anthony and Roser stayed on the levelling station and communicated with Sulabh, Gustav, me and the B2p team who stayed at the winching station, tightening and loosening the cables accordingly. The cable will need to be left overnight and readjusted the next day allowing gravitational force and creep to take place.

Hoisting the cable Image: Ramboll
Hoisting the cable

There was excellent progress at the workstation today. Local site workers are doing a fine job with just one engineer overseeing the production line. About 95 percent of the crossbeam are completed and 90 percent of the suspenders bar bended. We were ahead of our progress and by around 5pm it started raining and work stopped at the right time.

main cables being anchored image: Ramboll
main cables being anchored

We have lots of queries about the food we are eating so we will do a little introduction on our dinner today. The team agreed that we need to award a medal to the chef as the food was far more tasty than we could ever manage, especially with ingredients available.

Essential ingredients for dinner image: Ramboll
dinner tonight – very tasty

Day 7 – It’s starting to look like a bridge

The first part of the morning involved doing some essential but repetitive tasks. This included adjusting the 4 main cables sag to the right level, marking up the positions where the cross beams will hang on the restraining cables as well as reconfirming the suspender bar length. All the tasks require precision to the millimeters under the relentless, hot Rwandan sun.

In the afternoon, the B2p Rwanda programme manager visited the site and shared videos on how the children were crossing the river for school when they did the survey. This was confirmation of the importance of the mission, and made us more determined than ever to get this bridge built. We’re getting on so well with them, and a safe journey to school is the least we can leave behind.

With all the preparation and “ingredients” ready, we can finally move on to the next stage where the crossbeams are lifted in place. Biggest shout out to the guys on the scaffolding tower as the crossbeams are incredibly heavy, needed to be precisely clamped to the main cables on the position previously marked at an awkward position. We managed to get 15/42 of the crossbeams lifted in place, the team were so determined and only reluctantly leave site at 6pm as it was getting too dark.

At last it is starting to look like a bridge!

It's starting to look like a bridge Image: Ramboll
It’s starting to look like a bridge

Day 8 – Saturday, no rest for the wicked

  • On Saturday we made good progress
  • We completed launching all 42 crossbeams
  • We completed pre-drilling of all 108 timber deck
  • We started taking down scaffolding tower and touching up the tower paint.

I’m too tired to write any more today


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