Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Bridge in 60 days

Thirty men working for 60 work days; 150 tons of excavation; 175 tons of concrete; 47 tons of timber; and 6 tons of steel pipe was what it took to build the Eze River bridge in the Anambra state village of Ozubulu.

The bridge was totally hand-built by Dr Stong, a retired engineer, and the men and women of the Ozubulu village.

The bridge is 264 feet long and can carry a 3-ton vehicle. The most amazing fact is the construction was done without any heavy equipment! The only mechanized assistance came from a Chinese-made bulldozer used to grade the access road to the bridge.

As I wrote last October on Grandiose Parlor, the major financier of the project is the Worldwide Organization of Women based n Utah, USA. Dr Stong is an American engineer that does volunteer work in many developing countries. In addition to working free-of-charge on this project, he also donated some cash to the project.

He says of his experience in Nigeria:
“For many reasons this has been a very good project to show how the people themselves can get up and do for themselves when it is obvious the government will not or can not do what they wish for a better life. Here is a marvelous bridge birthed in a jungle across a muddy river and swamp. Just as easy it could have been a school, a clinic, a library, a community palm oil processing plant, a cassava starch extraction plant, a maze of fish raising ponds, a complex of chicken houses.”
Dr Stong had to leave for the United States before the bridge was fully completed, but he’s full of confidence that the men he left behind in Ozubulu will finish the project.
“Due to the bridge timber taking 6 weeks to be delivered instead of the planned 10 days, we went from ahead of schedule after the first 30 days to behind schedule by the 45th day on the bridge. Thus when it came time for me to leave, all concrete foundations and abutments had been placed and the roads to each end of the bridge developed, and we had placed all the timber for the deck we had which covered about 7 of the 20 spans with the basic transom beams (crosswise), longitudinal beams (under the wheels of the trucks), and deck planks. We needed to add the 3 railings, tread way and the 6x6 bumper planks. All that remained to be done was essentially mastered by the men, but that had to wait for the rest of the timber at the time I had to depart.”
Imagine this happening in every local government areas of Nigeria!

There are more pictures on Flickr, or start at the side bar flickr.

PS: Dr Stong will be leaving for Mexico by the end of February to supervise the building of a rural water supply system.