•The bridge will be constructed for Sh56 million and completed in 10 months.
•Last year four people were washed away by the river.
Demons are said to inhabit the Mto Mkuu River where people are washed away and witchdoctors are said to perform rituals on its banks.
Residents say witch doctors have been using their power ensure that a bridge is not constructed.
But their black magic failed.
On Monday Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga laid the foundation stone for the Sh56 million Mto Mkuu Bridge connecting Chony divison and Mtwapa. Construction is expected to take 10 months.
Before the groundbreaking, a church service was held to cast out demons from the river that washed away four people last year.
Speaking during the groundbreaking, Chonga said the Bridge was long overdue as many lives have been lost as people tried to cross the river when it's shallow.
“This bridge is vital, especially to the economy. Chonyi produces a lot of agricultural products and the main market is Mtwapa. The shortest route to the market is to cross this river. When it rains you cannot cross because the river swells,” Chonga said.
He said boda boda riders who ferry people across the river to Mtwapa when it's shallow have been robbed by criminals.
There's a section where people cross when the water subsides. It's very steep and thugs frequently wait for riders and rob them.
"They even kill them when they sense they could be recognized,” Chonga said.
Flash flooding hits the river several times a year.
Students in the nearby Tunzanani and Kidutani schools cannot go to school or get back home when it rains and the river swells.
“You could be crossing and suddenly you are swept away by water yet it has not rained. The bridge will open up this area to development,” Chonga said.
The route is also a bypass for people heading to Nairobi from Mtwapa who don't want to go through Mombasa.
The MP said there are plans to tamarack the road to connect Mtwapa to the Mavueni Mariakani highway through Chasimba.
Trader Amina Ali said the bridge will enable them to do business without fear.
“Three people were swept downstream while one was swept upstream last year. A big number have lost their lives here. Our main market is Mtwapa and when it rains we do not get essentials," she said.
The bridge had two drifts that were washed away several years ago.
(Edited by V. Graham)