FLOOD HITS HARD - Solomon Star News


07 December 2017
Part of the Mberande bridge that was washed away. [Photo supplied]

Bridges damaged, food gardens swept away


FLOODING in the Guadalcanal plains has swept away one bridge and badly damaged the other.

Hundreds of villagers have also lost food gardens during the Monday night floods.

The Tinahula River Bridge, which connects Honiara to the Gold Ridge mine site in central Guadalcanal was swept away, effectively cutting off this important link.

The Mberande Bridge, built by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and handed over to the government in August, was partly damaged.

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) the floods partly damaged Mberande Bridge’s approach road and the river bank protection.

It added the new Mberande River Bridge appears to have undertaken its job of withstanding a major flood event.

“Engineers are currently assessing the reported approach road washout, and will be providing MID with a detailed report as requested.

“The river is known to have shifted in its course due to changed upstream afflux levels,” MID said in a statement.

However, yesterday morning traffic was resumed after the contractor China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) mobilized their machines to do the repair work on the approach road.

Mberande was one of a number of bridges built under the Government of Solomon Islands and ADB supported Transport Sector Flood Recovery Project.

The bridges came under a $15.58 million funding ADB approved to help Solomon Islands rebuild transport infrastructure damaged by recent flash floods.

In the 2014 flash floods in Honiara and parts of Guadalcanal, a number of bridges were swept away.

Mberande Bridge and others were aimed at better withstanding the impact of climate change and natural disasters.

They were built to help farmers and investors capitalize on the agricultural potential of the Guadalcanal Plains.

Pictures uploaded by travellers on Social Media of the partly damaged bridge received widespread criticism on the engineering firm Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) engaged by MID to design the bridge.

It is believed that one contributing factor for the rapid flooding waters at Mberande was current logging activities conducted upstream.

Meanwhile, efforts to rehabilitate and reopen Gold Ridge mine site is expected to be disrupted with the destruction of Tinahula River Bridge.

The bridge was completely swept away by the flooded river.