Chilonga villagers send SOS over Runde Bridge A man carries his bicycle into a home made canoe to cross runde river at the low-level chilonga bridge that is partly submerged by river floods.

George Maponga in CHIREDZI

Villagers in Chilonga in northern Chikombedzi have implored the Government to urgently build an all-weather bridge across the Runde River to provide a key link between their area and Chiredzi town to stop unnecessary loss of life amid reports that an average of 20 people were drowning annually while trying to cross the river using the existing low-level bridge.

The low-level Chilonga bridge is the shortest link between northern Chikombedzi and Chiredzi town as travelling via Rutenga or Mupapa will add more than 100km to a one-way trip instead of around 60 km.

Chilonga is separated from the district commercial capital of Chiredzi by the perennially flowing Runde River which is also infested by crocodiles and the existing low-level bridge is always submerged by river floods forcing desperate motorists to risk their lives and passengers’ by crossing through the small bridge which exposes them to drowning.

Chilonga village head Mr Berejena Bere

In some cases desperate travellers from Chilonga resort to using home-made canoes which are unsafe as there is a high risk of them capsizing and drowning occupants. Home-made canoe operators are presently making a killing by offering ferry services to stranded travellers across the vast Runde River.

Chilonga Ward 6,7 and 9 proportional representation Councillor Feli Mashingaidze says it is imperative for the government to urgently build an all-weather bridge at Chilonga.

Wards 6,7 and 9 proportional representation councillor Feli Mashingaidze

This was supported by the Chilonga village head Mr Berejena Bere who said the local community was worried about carnage across the Runde River.

”Every year people will lose lives trying to use the low-level Chilonga bridge to cross the Runde River because it is the shortest route to Chiredzi Town. On average about 20 people drown every year while using either homemade canoes or small vehicles to cross the perennially flooded Runde River via Chilonga bridge,” he said.

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