Johannesburg - A bridge would be built over the Tugela River at uMsinga to connect the Mashunka and Ngubo communities, President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.There was no structure for residents to cross the river, except for a pedestrian bridge at Jolwayo, Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery in uMsinga, KwaZulu-Natal."The distance by road between the communities is about 30km, with the nearest medical facility to the community being the Mandleni Clinic located at Ngubo."Residents of Mashunka have to cross the Tugela River to access the clinic and when the river is in flood, the only access to the facility is by road, a distance of 30km."Rural development projectsPeople who were ill found the long walk and the steep approaches to the pedestrian bridge difficult and, due to the long distance, public transport was not cheap.Zuma was in uMsinga for the launch of three rural development projects, including the sod turning for the bridge.The other two were the refurbishment of a 100-year-old irrigation scheme and an animal sale yard.Preliminary designs for the bridge over the Tugela river had been completed."...The new bridge will provide those engaged in farming activities easier access to markets by ensuring more efficient transportation to take their produce to markets."Currently the main bridge crossing the Tugela River at Tugela Ferry is a single lane bridge and is often congested due to high traffic volumes with vehicles travelling through the Tugela Ferry Central Business District."Employment opportunitiesZuma said that the construction of the road and bridge would generate many employment opportunities.The provincial transport department would fund the access road and design costs, estimated at R25m, while the department of rural development would contribute R30m for the construction of the bridge."In addition the department of rural development and land reform, together with the provincial department of agriculture have through the animal and veld management programme completed 183 livestock infrastructure-related projects to support livestock farmers in the province," Zuma said."Our people in rural areas deserve a better quality of life and through the implementation of the comprehensive rural development programme, we are beginning to see a transformation of the rural landscape of our country and an improvement in the livelihoods of rural communities."