|A suspension bridge in the northern mountain province of Son La. An initial evaluation by local transport authorities across 56 cities and provinces reveals that more than 40 per cent of all suspension bridges across the country are in need of urgent repairs.—VNS Photo Viet Thanh
HA NOI (VNS)— More than 40 per cent of all suspension bridges across the country are in need of urgent repairs, according to the Ministry of Transport.
Khuat Minh Tuan, head of the ministry's Infrastructure Department said the figure came from an initial evaluation by local transport authorities across 56 cities and provinces.
Authorities are due to conduct technical tests on the bridges in an effort to clarify the exact number in need of repairs.
Figures from the ministry indicate there are about 1,950 suspension bridges in Viet Nam. About 809 operational bridges - roughly 40 per cent - have shown signs of erosion and rust. Up to 94 per cent of them are located on roads connecting villages and communes.
Currently, around seven cities and provinces, including Ha Noi, Khanh Hoa, Gia Lai, Binh Duong, Tien Giang, Can Tho and Ca Mau, are yet to report on the number of bridges in need of upgrades.
Tuan said management and maintenance efforts of suspension bridges in suburban areas, particularly in remote areas, remained weak due to a shortage of finance and professional knowledge.
He said the Viet Nam Road Administration had proposed to build 1,190 suspension bridges in 28 cities and provinces. The ministry has also approved a plan to build 186 bridges with a capital investment fund of VND1.7 trillion ($79.9 million).
The ministry would also allow transport authorities to use part of the State budget allocated to each locality to build bridges in areas facing a high risk of accidents or with heavy traffic.
To prevent fatal accidents, the ministry has required local authorities to repair dated bridges and close degraded bridges without specifications on weight capacity, height and length restrictions. Last February, the deadly collapse of the Chu Va 6 suspension bridge in Son Binh Commune of Tam Duong District killed 8 and injured 38 others.
It was reported that the cause of the incident was a sudden failing of screws attached to the girders. The screws used in the construction process had also been found not to meet production standards.
The ministry's inspectors also discovered that the bridge's pylons had been built with brick instead of with concrete, which might have also contributed to the collapse.
The Chu Va 6, with a length of 54m and a loading capacity of 1.5 tonnes, began operation in late 2012.
Suspension bridges are typically built with the weight of the deck supported by vertical cables suspended from other cables running between towers. They are anchored in abutments at both ends. — VNS