by Pete Ekstrand, ECC Missionary in DR Congo
November 18, 2017, DR Congo
What a celebration the CEUM, community, and government had earlier this week at the dedication of the Makanza bridge at Boyambi, 27 kilometers east of Gemena. Together we celebrated how all can work together with a U.S. partner to complete an important project. The project was to replace the broken and eroding culverts at the Makanza stream with a new bridge.
Financing for the project was given by Hope International Development Agency. Paul Carlson Partnership (PCP) was key in supporting Hope’s involvement. The government helped with providing some of the rock and gravel needed, the local community provided some labor, and the CEUM was the intermediary with all the partners.
Tuesday’s celebration was attended by the Governor of the Sud-Ubangi province, Joachim TAILA Nage, and all of his newly selected ministers, the Chef de Secteur, all the nearby Chef de Groupements wearing their traditional head coverings which symbolize their local authority, the CEUM leadership, plus school groups and many more. LOTS of people.
Some background about the project came out in the Governor and President Mboka’s remarks. The vision for repairing and replacing bridges started with President Sanguma at the end of his second term. In late 2011 or early 2012, a CEUM truck carrying medicines donated by Hope was headed from Karawa to Loko and Wasolo when it overturned trying to cross the Lumba bridge 12 kms east of Karawa. Two women were killed and lots of medicine destroyed. After this accident, President Sanguma said that the CEUM needs to do something to repair these bridges.The speakers commented that there would have been no celebration today without an initiator.
President Mboka picked up the mantle and carried it forward. In response to President Sanguma’s request, PCP and Hope connected with Tom Lawson, an engineer, who designed this simple mass density structure bridge. Hope shipped out the first supplies, the gabions and huge bolts, and then Tom came out to teach Jose KD Zongalinga, a CEUM engineer, how to build the bridges.
To date, twelve bridges have been replaced on key roads in the area, three on the road between Gemena and Karawa and three on the main road east of Karawa. The CEUM would like to open up more key interior roads with these bridges. President Mboka would also like to see the road between Bogose-Nubea and Karawa opened. This requires working on a long series of twelve bridges of various sizes.
We are so grateful to Pete Ekstrand for being present at the ceremony to read aloud PCP’s to provide us with these wonderful photos and report! We also thank Hope International Development Agency, through which we have been able fund these bridge projects in partnership with the CEUM and the amazing engineers like KD Zongalinga.
Building bridges like this one helps people transport medicines, supplies, food, and equipment that is critical to saving lives. Join us!