Rail traffic between Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso has been halted for at least two weeks after a bridge collapsed on the line linking the two countries, the operator has said.
The 250m iron bridge, built in 1910 across the Nzi river, collapsed dramatically on Tuesday as a freight train was crossing.
Nobody was hurt during the incident, which took place near Dimbokro, a town in central Ivory Coast some 250km (150 miles) north of Abidjan.
“We have a single track and this accident means we cannot continue rail operations. There will be a total stoppage (of rail transport) between Abidjan and Ouagadougou,” Noel Kouadio, head of security at operator Sitarail, told AFP at the scene.
Sitarail said “significant resources” were being poured into repairing the line and ensuring a resumption of rail traffic, which would take “at least a fortnight”.
It said it was “looking into temporary rail solutions in order that (the collapse) would not penalise the considerable volume of traffic which is important to the economies of both countries”.
Sitarail, the International Company for African Rail Transport, is a subsidiary of French industrial giant Bollore, which runs the line between Ivory Coast’s capital Abidjan and Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso.
The freight train, which was made up of two locomotives and 20 wagons, was carrying more than 1,000 tonnes of goods.
It remains stranded on the bridge.
Local residents reacted angrily to the collapse, saying that the entire bridge, which also had pedestrian access, was badly rusted and in need of repair.
“The whole economy is paralysed. Today is market day but everything is blocked,” Abu Kone, 52, a local trader told AFP on Wednesday.
With the bridge out of action, residents were using boats to cross the river.
The railway is the main means of access to the Atlantic coast for Burkina Faso and the cheapest way for Ivorian firms to export goods.
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