CAN THO — Weak bridges over the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta River are not only causing difficulties for the transportation of goods but are also hindering the development of the region's economy.
|Newly built bridges like this one in Thoai Son District in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang will help improve transportation in the Delta. The Ministry of Transport said a project to upgrade weak bridges nationwide has been proposed to the Government for approval.— VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
According to Road Management Zone 7 statistics, there are 43 weak and degraded bridges with low loading capacities in the country's southern key economic region.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister approved transport development plans for the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, which aims to transport 100-110 tonnes of goods per year with an average annual growth rate of 8.1 per cent by 2020.
However, vice chairman of the Ca Mau Province People's Committee Duong Tien Dung was quoted in Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying that it would be difficult to boost local economic development if the bridges were not upgraded.
Along National Highway 91, which runs through the provinces of Can Tho and An Giang, are nearly 20 weak bridges unable to load more than 15 to 20 tonnes.
Hoang Vinh, from an unnamed transport company in the southern Ca Mau Province, said that although the loading capacity of his company's trucks is much greater than 18 tonnes, the drivers are unable to transport at full capacity.
Vinh cites the Quan Lo-Phung Hiep stretch and says that despite being put into operation in 2011 with the hope of reducing the distance between the provinces of Hau Giang and Ca Mau by 40 kilometres, the road only allows for cars with loading capacities of less than 18 tonnes due to its weak bridge.
A representative of a seafood company in Ca Mau Province also said that his company wanted to use container trucks with capacity of up to 30-40 tonnes to transport goods, instead of small lorries, to reduce costs.
"However, the roads and bridges do not allow this," said the anonymous representative, adding that the cost of goods transportation may double or even triple as enterprises are being forced to divide their goods into smaller amounts to transport across the weak bridges.
According to Road Management Zone 7, the degradation of these bridges had been warned many times, however, capital shortages have hindered any upgrade or new construction.
According to the Ministry of Transport, the development of traffic infrastructure in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta to 2015 has encountered a serious shortage of capital.
The region needs an additional VND113 trillion (US$5.38 billion) for the implementation of traffic projects, however, roughly only 20 per cent of the required capital can be met.
The ministry said that a project to repair and upgrade weak bridges nationwide had been proposed to the Government for approval.
According to Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam statistics, of the 4000 bridges throughout the country more than 700 are considered weak and unable to handle large loading capacities. — VNS