Two volunteers sponsored by CIMIC Group, alongside colleagues from HOCHTIEF and ACS Group, recently completed construction of the 34-metre Rufuha footbridge over the Kagaga River in the Western Province of Rwanda.
The Rufuha Bridge was delivered in partnership with not-for-profit charity organisation Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), which has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rwandan government to build 350 footbridges across the country over the next five years.
B2P is one of HOCHTIEF’s main areas of sponsorship and CIMIC Group was pleased to support this worthwhile initiative by contributing the time and effort of two of our people.
Caitlin Ziviani, an Environmental Graduate with UGL in Brisbane, and Tim Anderson, a Site Engineer with CPB Contractors currently working on the West Gate Tunnel Project in Melbourne, were selected from many high calibre applicants across CIMIC Group to work on the two-week project.
Caitlin Ziviani said: "This was a fantastic experience that allowed me to meet people from across the Group and work closely with an organisation that is greatly benefiting local communities."
"The project and the work that B2P does with the community is life changing. These bridges have proven to be more than just an access point from one side of a river to another, but a way to further the education of children, promote trade, and connect families." said Caitlin Ziviani, UGL Environmental Graduate
"The one thing that I learnt from my volunteering is that in order to enact change and see it continue, people need to be brought along on the journey.
"The approach that B2P takes, enhancing the capabilities of the locals and giving them real ownership of the project, is what makes their infrastructure and the project such a success."
Making a difference
Good infrastructure is not a given in every part of the world.
The Kagaga River becomes more dangerous to cross when it flows faster and the level rises after heavy rainfall, especially during the rainy seasons. Last year, two primary school children – aged 8 and 10 – lost their lives on the way to school. In the past three years, five more people have died attempting to cross near where the new Rufaha Bridge has been built.
The new bridge provides safe, year-round access for members of the Munini and Karehe communities to access their school, markets and health centre.
Tim Anderson said: “There is no doubt that the Rufuha Bridge project will have a positively profound impact for the region. During the bridge build we witnessed the volume of women and men who were crossing the river to sell their produce at the local market. The local community heavily depends on farming to uphold their economy.
An important aspect of the bridge build was teaching the local workers engineering and construction skills. Working together in small teams, the CIMIC/HOCHTIEF/B2P members were able to pass on their knowledge to the locals.
Tim Anderson, CPB Contractors Site Engineer
“Our team trained the workers in the safe use of fall arrest systems and harnesses when working at heights. An emphasis on working safely was set right from the beginning of the project. Each day would start with a safety prestart meeting to discuss risks and hazards of each activity and near misses were reported to the supervisors.”