A while back we wrote about the fun we had on a detour around a washed out bridge, well I’m pleased to let you all know that we now have some photos of the bridge, it only took a month and a few forgetful crossings of the bridge before we finally remembered to take some pictures.
So far the government’s response has been incredibly poor, bear in mind that this is one of the most important roads in Cross River State and is a federal highway, they have started building a diversion around the main washed out bridge, but so far have only managed to get one of their caterpillar bulldozers washed away by the river!
On the other hand the local response has been fantastic, the enterprising people from the surrounding villages have built a number of rickety wooden bridges for cars to cross, the biggest vehicle allowed being an empty land rover. All vehicles have to pay to cross and the passengers have to walk across and pay as well. If you have a load in your vehicle it has to be emptied and carried across by the bunches of youths gathered looking to get a quick buck from carrying loads across.
It’s like the wild west there, with cars backed up on either side of the bridge waiting to cross, people jostling to cross over, touts vying for your attention to carry stuff across and an impromptu market has been setup to cater for every traveller’s needs! The crossing of the bridge takes about 30 minutes – mainly because every vehicle crossing has to negotiate their own price to cross, frustrating at times but this is Africa! One thing you can say is that people are enterprising despite their governments basic incompetency.
The bridges you can see in the pictures above were both washed away a couple days after we crossed over and had been rebuilt by the time we made our return journey back, but since the guys building the bridge are making so much from all the cars and people crossing I don’t think they really mind rebuilding the bridges every week. Signs of the money flowing into the village nearby were evident, people were busy spending the new income, new wheelbarrows and other improvements springing up as well as, no doubt, full bars every night.
More pictures in of our time so far in Nigeria on our Nigeria gallery page.