|A rudimentary suspension bridge in Kon Tum Province's Dak Glei District. — Photo tapchigiaothong.vn
KON TUM (VNS) — The transport department of Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands has said there are 108 unsafe suspension bridges in the province.
Many of these suspension bridges are reportedly rudimentary, made of locally available materials such as bamboo and wood, and have been built by the local people themselves.
Ninh Van De, director of the department's transport infrastructure management division, said the department has requested the district authorities in the province to suspend the use of 27 bridges, fearing they could pose a risk to people's lives.
The department has also asked the districts to spend their own money on fixing and upgrading these dilapidated bridges as the rainy season has set in.
Dak Glei is one of the districts in the province with several dilapidated bridges. District officials said 46 of the district's 75 suspension bridges were no longer safe for use.
However, they claimed the district did not have the money to fix or upgrade the ramshackle bridges.
They said all they could do was to set up signs at the bridges' entrance points to warn vehicles that weigh more than what the bridge could bear.
The lack of money to repair Dak Glei bridges is a plight shared by districts with several suspension bridges in a state of disrepair in Kon Tum Province, including Kon Plong, Tu Mo Rong, Ngoc Hoi and Dak To, besides Sa Thay.
The transport ministry had recently set the start of this year's rainy season as the deadline for completing the national goal of building 186 suspension bridges in mountainous provinces in the country.
At a conference held in March to review the suspension bridge construction plans, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong had said the 186 bridges must be operational by the end of this June.
He had said more than 295 suspension bridges, with an investment capital of VND1.3 trillion (US$60.5 million), would be constructed and opened to public by the end of June 2016.
However, head of the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam Nguyen Trung Sy said some construction companies were moving too slowly, such as Thanh Long JSC and Construction No3 JSC.
Pham Quang Vinh, deputy head of the directorate, on the other hand, blamed the slow work on local authorities, especially in clearing of sites for bridge construction, with some sites showing no progress at all.
Deputy Minister Truong has asked the local authorities to quicken the pace of site clearance. He also asked the directorate to make a list of bridges that still need to attract more investors, and to build a software programme to monitor the bridge projects.
Figures from the transport ministry indicate that of the 1,950 suspension bridges in Viet Nam, only 810 are operational, and roughly 40 per cent show signs of erosion and rust.
Almost 94 per cent of these bridges are located on roads connecting small villages and communes. — VNS