Bridges to Prosperity’s first-ever corporate-sponsored hybrid suspension bridge provides protected passage to education, healthcare, and opportunities
Volunteers from TYLin and ARUP, in collaboration with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), have successfully completed construction of the Bishenge (Masuma) Bridge. This 223-foot-long hybrid suspension bridge spans the Gasumo River at the Nyamagabe municipality in Rwanda.
The Bishenge Bridge is set to transform the lives of those living in the Gishenge, Gakomeye, Kibuga, and Ruhinga communities. For these residents, the Gasumo River has long represented challenges and missed opportunities, especially during the rainy season, when crossing the river becomes perilous and often deadly. River flooding destroys temporary crossings and eliminates access to critical resources such as schools, health centers, and markets, significantly impacting daily life and economic activities.
The newly constructed Bishenge Bridge will have a positive and lasting impact on these communities. With safe, year-round access across the river, children can attend school regularly, businesses can thrive, and essential resources can be accessed. This project empowers local communities and represents a significant step toward their success.
By combining design elements from both suspended and suspension bridges, the Bishenge Bridge addresses elevation differences on each side of the Gasumo River. The design includes a concrete abutment on one side, a steel tower on the other, steel deck panels and main suspension cables reclaimed from crane cabling, and suspenders fabricated on-site from donated steel rebar.
The remote location with its steep, mountainous terrain posed logistical challenges, including a 15-minute hike to the construction site. The high altitude made strenuous activities even more challenging, and hot temperatures above 90°F affected productivity on some days.
Despite the challenges and language barrier, the skilled team of engineers and committed community members effectively collaborated to ensure a safe and successful construction process. Approximately 30 local men and women actively participated in building the bridge. During construction, community members received training in the long-term maintenance of the bridge. At the inauguration ceremony, they were provided with maintenance manuals and entrusted with the responsibility of preserving the bridge for decades to come.
Interacting with area residents was a heartwarming experience for our volunteers. Children, parents, and grandparents passionately watched the daily construction progress – all eagerly anticipating the completion of the bridge. Children joyfully escorted the team on its daily hike back to the transport vehicles. Team members visited a local school, where they educated more than 200 students about bridge building using small wooden models to illustrate the different components of a suspension bridge.
The successful completion of the Bishenge Bridge highlights the urgent need for better connectivity across Rwanda's vast rivers. Today, this bridge stands not only as a symbol of connection but also as a testament to the incredible potential of engineering to uplift communities. It spans not just the Gasumo River but also the divide between dreams and reality, bridging the gap to a world of possibilities. TYLin and B2P are committed to continuing their efforts and eagerly look forward to working together on their next bridge to prosperity.