After an two intense weeks, the Gasyogogo bridge was officially inaugurated yesterday morning by the vice mayor.
It was a great occasion, made all the more special by the attendance of a number of the Bridges to Prosperity board members, including CEO Avery Bang. This was because Gasyogogo is the first of 350 bridges to be built in Rwanda by Bridges to Prosperity in the next five years, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rwandan government.
The local community came out in force to enjoy the event and the members of the local bridge committee were given certificates and a copy of the bridge-building manual.
For us, it was a bittersweet event – we are so proud of the local community and have all loved the bridge building experience, but are sad to leave our new friends behind and start thinking about our day jobs back in the UK!
Today we put the finishing touches to the bridge, including painting and putting the wire on the railings of the abutments. Midway through the morning, a group of us headed off to Apecas Muyunzwe Tvet School, a local secondary. We met a group of students who are studying construction, and spoke to them about famous bridges around the world and the similarities with the Gasyogogo bridge. It was great to see young people so excited and engaged with engineering! At the end of our visit, we handed out the footballs kindly donated to the school by Celtic FC and Rangers FC. They were very well received!
After returning to site and putting finishing touches to the bridge (dodging the frequent rain showers), we headed into Muyunzwe for a football match with the local bridge building team and B2P.
The orange team took an early lead, direct from a corner, which they took into half time. Jean and Eric led a rousing half-time team talk, which, when coupled with some tactical changes, including moving Eric from centre midfield to centre forward, completely altered the complexion of the game. Eric tore up the defence to win a corner, which he then took for Jack to power in at the near post, after beating Matt’s marking to draw the game level. Eric set up the next goal, along with a scuffed pass from Jack and finished off by William before finishing off a solo run to put the game beyond doubt. Matt moved into midfield and made a difference but it was a case of too little too late and was unable to draw the game level. Final score 3-1 to the green team. It was great to see the community come out in force to watch the match, and thanks to Holly for refereeing!
Following the football, we invited all of the local bridge build team to our accommodation for a barbecue. Despite the rain showers, a great time was had by all and huge thanks to chefs JP and Evariste for cooking up a feast!
(Thanks to Jack for the match report!)
The bridge is really starting to come together now! Today we took down the temporary platform surrounding the right abutment, which has been there since the beginning. This meant we could start to finish the painting at the top of the abutment.
On the bridge itself, the final rebar was bent into place before lunch. This meant that during the afternoon, we could place and fasten the wire mesh on both sides of the deck.
On the left abutment, the final concreting was done, ready for painting and finishing touches tomorrow.
During the afternoon, the local bridge building team filled in the drainage channels under the two abutments with rocks.
Today was about starting to put the finishing touches to the bridge. We completed the 31m of decking, which is a great achievement! We also started painting the tops of the two abutments and installing the railings.
This afternoon, some of us visited the local primary school in Muyunzwe. We spoke to some of the older students about wearing PPE on construction sites and held a mini PPE challenge! The students were great and very enthusiastic, giving us such a warm welcome. We donated a few pieces of equipment to the school, including a rounders set, chalkboard and parachute.
Today the bridge really started to take shape as we began decking in earnest. This involved a number of people working at height, so we all had a health and safety briefing before we started. We managed to deck a third of the bridge today before the rain started!
Elsewhere on site, the left abutment continued to be filled with rocks, ready for concreting tomorrow.
Today on site we are celebrated International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). INWED’s focus is to promote engineering as a career choice for women around the world – currently only 12% of engineers in the UK are women.
To find out what motivates our very own women in engineering, we asked them a couple of questions.
I was academic at school but also loved art and graphics. I had no idea what an engineer was, never mind a civil / structural engineer. My guidance teacher suggested I went into law or medicine, which I probably would have done, if it wasn’t for my maths teacher who suggested a week long course which introduced girls into engineering. This was a STEM run course in partnership with Strathclyde University. My eyes were opened to different engineering fields and I went back to school enthused at the prospect of designing structures and infrastructure.
I love that my job involves a variety and pace of tasks. A recent memorable project was a community family hospital, the biggest project I have worked on so far. It was challenging in terms of aligning with the architect as well as accommodating the mechanical and electrical needs of the building.
If you want a career which will lend its self to variety, taking you to new places and projects, engineering is a great choice to consider. A rewarding career where you can physically improve the way people live their lives for the better.
At school I had a keen interest in maths and the sciences but had no idea how I would incorporate these into my life outside of school. I always had a knack for problem solving and loved to be hands on; so when my eyes were opened to engineering I jumped at the thought. My parents were both very supportive of me studying engineering and my dad, coming from a construction background, was quick to introduce me to civil engineering.
The best part of my job is the team I work alongside, the diversity and the unlikely friendships certainly make the work an enjoyable task. I also love the diversity of tasks and the fact that no two days are the same. The ability to help others and change the world around me fuels my motivation during those early starts and long days.
Construction is such a diverse and broad area it really does have a place for everyone! The ability to see changes around you from the work you are directly involved with is such a rewarding thing.
For the weekend, we took the opportunity to see some more of beautiful Rwanda. We headed westwards to Lake Kivu, the eighth largest lake in Africa, which boasts some stunning scenery. After arriving on Saturday afternoon we took a boat trip around some of the islands on the lake, managing to see some rare species of birds. On Sunday morning, some of us took the opportunity to go kayaking on the lake before heading back to Gasyogogo after lunch.
This morning, by popular demand, we had a repeat of the hokey-kokey for our morning warm-up. Our local bridge building teammates seem very fond of it and have been singing it all day!
This morning, we finished launching and bending the swingers across the river. Thanks to Balfour Beatty Plant & Fleet for donating the winch! While this was going on, the local bridge building team started filling the right abutment with concrete. They have a great production process and were able to top it out by the end of the day.
After lunch, we set out and cut the final decking boards before we began installation. The local bridge team put the final touches to the right abutment, whilst also starting the stone curbing on the left abutment. We also painted the safety panels which we will use to complete the decking with the Rwandan flag, which was a great way of getting the local community involved and finding out more about the country’s history.
Today we arrived on site to be met by our team of local colleagues, who we are now starting to get to know quite well. After the daily task briefing led by Evariste, Simon and Jack, Naila volunteered to lead the daily warm-up routine and chose to sing and dance the hokey-kokey – everyone soon lost their inhibitions and enjoyed themselves hugely!
The teams then split up, with Jack, Anna and Skye leading on tasks in the fabrication yard and working with the local bridge committee to share setting-up skills and using power tools to drill and fix the bridge components. Simon, along with Evariste from B2P, went off site to source some additional timber, while Holly, Matt, Dan and Tim took to the detailed task of launching the bridge deck.
We believe this is the first time this particular launch method has been used on a B2P bridge in Rwanda. We launched the first 10 crossbeams, a third of the total number. We should be in a position to start decking tomorrow!
At the same time, the local team continued to fill the abutments with rocks.
Watching the local bridge committee learning new tasks, asking questions and gaining in confidence is giving us a real sense of pride and satisfaction – after all, we are building this bridge to last and sharing our engineering knowledge will allow for this.
In other news, we saw a black kite soaring above our site all day today, and provided Naila with the perfect opportunity to share photos and videos of red kites in Scotland.
A key focus for today was finishing all the material in the fabrication yard so that we can start constructing the bridge. This involved finishing bending and tying the 60 reinforcement bars for the swingers, continuing to treat the nailers and training the local bridge committee in setting out the decking boards, as well as enhancing their cutting and drilling skills. Teaching these skills is vital so that they can maintain the bridge after we’ve gone home.
Down at the abutments, the local community helped us continue to fill them full of stone (we also got another truckload of stones delivered).
The cables we set yesterday were double-checked to ensure the sag is set correctly.
Towards the end of the day, we practiced setting out the swingers, nailers and safety panels.