A Brand-New Footbridge in Congo Collapsed During its Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Apparently that ribbon was a structural member holding the whole bridge together.

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Gif: Djedje Mbuyamba / Reuters

Most ribbon-cutting ceremonies are honestly dull. A bunch of corporate executives or local politicians show up to cut through a meaningless ribbon with a comically oversized pair of scissors to commemorate the completion of a project. Yes, a thin strand of ribbon was definitely preventing cars from driving over this finished bridge. However, the ceremonial opening of a footbridge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had an unexpected twist when the bridge collapsed at the exact moment the ribbon was cut.

The incident plays out like a scene from the TV sitcom Parks and Recreation. The dignitaries were positioned to open a footbridge across a stream in the Mont Ngafula district of Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. The video, verified by Reuters, clearly begins in media res. One end of the red ribbon is already fluttering in the breeze while the other side is held taut. I can only imagine that the initial ribbon-cutting wasn’t caught on camera and had to be done again.

Congo bridge collapses seconds after being opened

Right as the ribbon is cut for the second time, the entire bridge collapses. The handrails fall away on either side and the deck plummets into the stream. A second camera angle shows the full extent of the collapse — and the relatively small scale of the footbridge. The bridge couldn’t have been more than seven or eight feet high. Several onlookers actually went to help the dignitaries onto an older, parallel footbridge.


Thankfully, nobody seems to have been injured in the collapse of the bridge. My favorite victim has to be the person in military fatigues, black beret and sunglasses, climbing free of the debris with a champagne bottle in hand. I respect anyone who goes to a public ceremony intent on leaving with as much as they can carry. That’s the kind of mentality everyone should have going into a ribbon-cutting ceremony.