Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bridge to Kainantu

        One morning, early in August, we received word that the bridge leading into the Aiyura Valley, where we live, had fallen down.   Naturally, because this sort of thing has a direct impact on the Auto Shop department, we decided to go out and take a look.  This is what we found:

       Early in the morning, the bridge had finally collapsed while a truck carrying a load of diesel fuel was attempting to cross it.   We had all been expecting something like this for quite some time, so it was almost a relief to hear that it had finally gone down.  Thankfully the driver of the truck and his assistant were not seriously injured, and in fact the truck you see here was pulled out of the water and driven under its own power to Lae (230 km away) for repairs.  Even the big fuel tank was not serious damaged, in spite of this large group of people industriously trying to poke a hole into it with a big crowbar!

        Unfortunately, this bridge is part of the only good road into the Aiyura Valley, which means that anybody living in the Valley now no longer had a good way to get supplies in.  We had no idea how long it was going to take to replace the bridge, so we started rationing what supplies we had and settled in for a potentially long wait.  We sent a couple of 4x4 vehicles out to see if they could find a way out via a little used dirt road that runs many miles out of our way, but this option proved not to be a good one.  That road was too rough and only skilled drivers in 4x4's could use it, and there were serious concerns about the condition of some of the bridges in that road.

        Anyway, much to our delight, the government very quickly sent in a bridge building expert, and under his able direction the new bridge came together fairly quickly.  By early September the new bridge was in place!  It's still not quite done yet (there is a plan to improve the foundations and then to shift the whole bridge over onto the new foundations), but it is usable.  The dirt ramps going up to the bridge are still too rough for 2 wheel drive vehicles, especially if it has rained, so things are still not quite back to normal yet, but al in all, we are very excited about this new bridge: