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UNRA, Kapelebyong District Disown Acinga Bridge

Residents in the area told our reporter that many women have given birth at the bridge after failing to cross over Dopeth-Okok river to access Acowa HC III for delivery. Acinga Sub County doesn’t have a government health facility or school.
Residents crossing Acinga Bridge with a boat donated by Anthony Esenu.

Audio 2

Uganda National Roads Authority- UNRA and Kapelebyong District Local Government have abandoned Acinga Bridge. Acinga Bridge connects Acowa to the newly created Acinga Sub County. The bridge has been down for more than ten years locking up more than 14,000 people.

Residents in the area told our reporter that many women have given birth at the bridge after failing to cross over Dopeth-Okok river to access Acowa HC III for delivery. Acinga Sub County doesn’t have a government health facility or school.

People in the area rely on drug shops operated by untrained personnel for treatment. Majority of mothers neither attend antenatal services nor give birth at a health facility due to transport challenges. Farmers with produce like rice, cassava, simsim and others for sale incur losses since vehicles cannot access their homes to buy produce. 

The sub-county with five parishes and 28 villages has seven boreholes. One parish has four boreholes and others share the remaining two which often break.

Richard Okiru, a resident of Acinga says the sub-county is in a total lockdown since it’s cut off from all government services and other parts of the country. He notes that five people have died since the beginning of this year while attempting to cross the flooded bridge.

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Michael Obokor, a young man found at Acinga Bridge told our reporter that his mother, Margret Atuko gave birth along the roadside in July this year when she failed to cross the bridge at night.

He explains that several mothers have given birth at the bridge after failing to cross over to Acowa HC III for health services.

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Angella Akurut, the Kapelebyong Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, says the bridge belongs to UNRA. She notes that several letters have been written to UNRA over the fate of the people in Acinga but they haven’t received a response.  

Information in Kapelebyong district indicates that the bridge requires more than 5 billion Shillings for construction but the district doesn’t have the funds. When our reporter contacted the Soroti UNRA Station Manager, Ahmed Awoii over the matter he disowned the bridge. 

According to Awoii, they only helped the community with a boat after hearing many complaints from residents on how to access the services in Acowa.

“That is a district road and those officials are aware. If they want the central government to help in constructing that bridge, there are procedures to follow. Otherwise just lamenting and blaming others won’t help”, he said.

Awoii explained that for central government to take over the district road, the road in question should lead to another district, be a tourist attraction, security road or be with a high volume of traffic among other guidelines. 

On Saturday, Anthony Esenu, Kapelebyong County parliamentary candidate offered a boat to help residents of Acinga to cross the bridge. Esenu’s intervention comes after UNRA withdrew the boat they had improvised for the community.