Award for engineer who 'changed life for thousands of Africans'

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Kayin Dawoodi with the people of the Muregeya River and, behind, the bridge Kayin Dawoodi with the people of the Muregeya River and, behind, the bridge

An engineer has been honoured for his work in Africa.

Kayin Dawoodi, of Queen's Road, Buckhurst Hill,  has been named Young structural engineering professional of the year 2014 for his work in Western Rwanda.

Mr Dawoodi, 30, worked with US charity Bridges to Prosperity, leading a team in the construction of a 50-metre long suspension bridge over the Muregeya River.

The award was presented to Mr Dawoodi by the Institution of Structural Engineers, which looks to recognise outstanding young talent in the industry.

Mr Dawoodi, who has been an engineer for seven years, said working on the project was an "incredible experience".

He said: “It changed the lives of thousands of people in the area and shows how vital engineering is - and how much we take it for granted at home.”

It is hoped the project, called BridgeTOOL, will become a template for similar engineering projects around the world.

The bridge allows people who live on the southern side of the river to access markets to sell produce, the local secondary school and the only local hospital - all on the northern side.

Previously people had crossed the river on foot - which is extremely dangerous when the river swells, risking injury and death.

Mr Dawoodi’s bridge design is expected to give up to 1,500 people a day safe passage across the river.

One of the judges who handed out the award was Dr David Vesey, who said: “It is a wonderful example of how engineers can deliver the most astonishing lift to communities in developing nations.”

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