Words by Ian Palmer. Pictures by various.
Building a bridge
In March this year, the 4×4 MegaWorld Club visited Mozambique, staying at the soon-to-be-opened Nghunghwa Lodge near Bilene – a trip covered in the June issue of SA4x4. During one of the off-road trips tackled during our stay, the convoy of 4x4s crossed a remote rural bridge which disintegrated as we crossed. Returning via the same bridge turned into quite an adventure, but we eventually managed; deciding there and then that we’d have to return to Mozambique to rebuild the bridge.
Shortly after our return to Gauteng, we set plans in motion and soon managed to get a team together to tackle this project. The Nghunghwa Lodge owners, Klaus Fisher and John Aucamp, and the 4×4 MegaWorld Club led by Deon Venter (4×4 Mega World CEO), returned to Bilene in early June to commence ‘Operation Bridge’. Arriving at Nghunghwa Lodge, Bilene, in the afternoon, we tackled a few logistical issues and packed all the material necessary for the bridge building. Early the next morning, we towed the six eight-metre poles to the lagoon’s edge. We fastened them to one of the lodge’s boats which towed them to the far southern side of the lagoon, where the rest of the team were waiting. Here, we used chains to attach two poles to each vehicle, before setting off through the bush to the bridge.
Accompanying us was Carlos, Bilene’s chief of Maritime, who was extremely appreciative of our building this bridge, as a number of children have to cross it every day to attend school. The bridge had been in a dangerously poor state of repair even before our convoy had stumbled over it.
Building the bridge took the better part of a day, but it was most rewarding to stand back and admire our handiwork when we were done. After cleaning up the immediate area, we packed and set off back to the lodge, stopping for dinner and a few drinks at the popular Villa n’ Banga beach restaurant and pub. We spent the next day quietly at the camp, resting our aching muscles, before travelling home the following day.
This was a very productive weekend indeed, and a big thank-you must be extended to Nghunghwa Lodge, 4×4 MegaWorld and the team of guys whose manpower made this bridge-building expedition possible.