Low-lying Chilonga Bridge claims Chiredzi RDC employee’s life

A CHIREDZI Rural District Council (RDC) employee was recently swept away at the low-lying Chilonga Bridge, as he tried to cross the flooded Runde River.

BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA

Chiredzi RDC chief executive Isaac Matsilele confirmed the incident and said the body of Wilson Kabalani was positively identified about 20km down stream seven days after his disappearance.

The motorbike he was riding is, however, yet to be recovered. His body was taken to Chiredzi General Hospital for post-mortem and funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.

“I can confirm that we lost one of our employees in a heartrending accident while trying to cross the bridge, but I will give further details later,” Matsilele said.

According to witnesses, Kabalani, who was working in the planning department, was coming from his rural home of Chikombedzi when he decided to cross the flooded bridge.

Last year, a motorist and his three children were swept away while trying to cross the flooded river.

In 2006, a Mkwasine sugarcane farmer, Richman Tunhira, was swept away and his body found 37km down the river two days later, bringing the number of people who have died while crossing the bridge to 16 in recent years.

About 13 years ago, government promised to construct a new bridge across Runde River in Chilonga east of Chiredzi at a cost of $Z200 billion.

In February last year, it said it had availed $3 million through the Transport ministry for construction of the low-lying bridge, but the project remains a pipe dream.

Meanwhile, police are yet to implement a directive by the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) committee to mount 24-hour roadblocks on both sides of the river to deter motorists from crossing the flooded river.

Chiredzi district administrator Lovemore Chisema, who chairs the CPU, said there was need to revisit all the resolutions made.

“We are going to convene an urgent meeting to make follow-ups on all the resolutions made in previous meetings and make sure that everything agreed in the meeting be implemented as a matter of urgency,” he said.