A $10 million Chinese-built bridge in western Kenya, personally commissioned by president Uhuru Kenyatta, has collapsed. At least 27 workers were injured when the bridge broke on Monday (June 26). The government has halted construction and sent a team of engineers to investigate.
The collapse occurred less than two weeks after president Kenyatta visited the site as part of a campaign tour before general elections in August. Kenyatta, who is up for reelection, has been emphasizing his party’s focus on infrastructure projects, like a new railway between Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.
The president promised to build the bridge in Busia county after a boat carrying 11 people capsized on the river, killing everyone on board. Kenyatta attended the funeral for one of the victims, a student.
The collapse isn’t good news for Chinese companies operating in Africa either. Over the past decade, as Chinese companies have won more contracts to build roads and other infrastructure projects across the continent, Chinese officials and companies have worked to overcome a reputation for poor quality and lax safety standards. Portions of a Chinese built road in Zambia were washed away by rains in 2009, and a hospital in Angola was evacuated when local officials feared it would collapse in 2010, incidents that were widely covered in local media.
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