Development & Alumni Relations Office 


01 May 2018

Two Queen’s civil engineering students are among a group of individuals getting ready to travel to Rwanda to build a 45 metre suspension bridge which will have a major impact on 6,000 rural people in East Africa.

The Institution of Civil Engineers is sending an overall team of 10 civil engineers, including Claire Hughes from Belfast and Philip Crossett from Magherafelt, to construct what will be known as the Mutovu Suspension Bridge. The engineers are both part of Queen's University's School of Natural and Built Environment.

The project is in partnership with Bridges to Prosperity, a charity committed to ending poverty caused by rural isolation. The trip is part of ICE 200, a celebration throughout 2018 of the 200th anniversary of the Institution of the Civil Engineers.

Speaking to the Mid-Ulster Mail last month, Philip said: “The opportunity to take part in a project such as this has been great.

“I am looking forward to starting the project, applying my engineering skills and experience and to having a lasting impact on the lives of people in Rwanda.”

Currently, up to 6,000 people living in Uwacyeza and Muganza cannot cross the Giwsi River for 120 days during the year. When the river floods, local farmers can’t travel to the market to sell their goods, students can’t attend school, and the health clinic is inaccessible.

In recent years, three people have died attempting to cross the river. The community urgently needs a bridge in order to have safe, year-round access on both sides of the river.

The students will fly with the team to Rwanda this month and spend two weeks constructing the bridge from start to finish.

The bridge builders have already received support from a number of organisations who have already committed £50,000 toward the cost of the bridge, including Arup, Belfast Met, Farrans, GRAHAM, H&J Martin Construction, McAdam Design, Queen’s University, RPS, Translink, WDR and RT Taggart.

Those wishing to support Claire and Philip can do so here. Donations will go toward the fundraising goal of £15,000 – half of which has already been raised – which will cover flights, accommodation, food and vaccinations for the team of civil engineers.

Media inquiries to Emma Gallagher at Queen’s University Communications Office, telephone +44 (0)28 9097 5384.

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