Human traffic mainly by business women, students and workers came to an abrupt halt at Regent street in the morning hours yesterday when the ‘Bambara spring’ bridge which links Regent street and Peterson street via Eastern police in Freetown reportedly collapsed leaving three women and one man injured.
Aruna Kamara an eyewitness who resides adjacent to the bridge said he was in a workshop by the bridge in the morning hours of yesterday when he heard a strange sound and by the time he came out to see what was happening, the bridge had collapsed with three women and one man struggling to survive underneath the bridge.
He added that it was the timely intervention of youths in that community that saved the lives of the four victims who incurred bodily injuries.
Prior to the collapse of the bridge he said, a pile of filth deposited under the bridge was set on fire by an unidentified person for several days, effort to restrict residents of that community from depositing rubbish there proved futile up to its final collapse yesterday.
He said the bridge was community owned but with the protracted vehicular traffic and congestion over the years along Regent road, Sackville and Goderich streets, most of the commuters and pedestrians from West and Eastend parts of Freetown frequently use the bridge as a short cut to fast track their movements.
“Recently even illegal Okada Riders who dodge traffic police and wardens at Eastend Police use the bridge as escape route” he said.
Another eye witness, Musa Kamara explained that the bridge was filled with market women who were rushing to Dovecot but some narrowly escaped death when the incident took place.
Jamina Kamara one of the residents of that community traced the origin of the bridge to 1961 as a community bridge built to serve residents of Peterson and Regent streets, but observed that the rural urban migration during the course of the war may have increased pressure on the bridge.
She said between 1985 and 1986 some form of rehabilitation was done on the bridge but since 2006, it started getting worse gradually and several pleas were made to rehabilitate it but to no avail.
The councilor elect for Ward 376 where the bridge is, Abubakarr Nylander Kargbo alias ‘Agba Oh’ said the collapse of the bridge did not come as a surprise as the bridge is one of the oldest in Freetown which serves both ward 376 and ward 374, adding that it has been in a dilapidated condition for some time now.
He stated that, he has contacted Hon. Osho Williams and Hon. Nuru Deen Sankoh the members of parliament in constituency 104 and 105 to speedily help rehabilitate the bridge. By Solomon Rogers