Workers at Bình Lợi Railway Bridge, which spans the Sài Gòn River. HCM City plans to inspect bridge conditions and ensure they’re safe. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hải
HCM CITY — HCM City plans to inspect the conditions of bridges and ensure safety after a barge hit the Ghềnh Bridge recently on Đồng Nai River, causing it to collapse.
The Bình Lợi Railway Bridge over the Sài Gòn River, for example, which was built 114 years ago, is vulnerable as there is heavy traffic below it on the river.
If the bridge collapsed, the consequences would be severe as motorbikes travel on the bridge every day.
Lê Văn Khoa, vice chairman of HCM City’s People’s Committee, said that after the accident at Ghềnh Bridge, the government of HCM City would speed up the construction progress of a new Bình Lợi Railway Bridge.
It is expected that a ground-breaking ceremony will be organised next month.
Water traffic on the Sài Gòn River is usually busy, while the bridge navigation is only 1.5 metre high, according to Lieutenant Colonel Phan Văn Mẫn, of Waterway Traffic Police Department.
Last year, there were three cases of collisions into bridges.
The Long Kiểng Bridge and Rạch Dơi Bridge in Nhà Bè District, for example, collapsed after being hit by barge.
Cái Tâm Bridge in Bình Chánh District also fell after a barge hit it in September last year, causing traffic congestion.
Mẫn said that the city authority had allocated forces to guard Bình Lợi Bridge. They will help to regulate traffic on the river around the clock.
When the tide falls, boats and barges will then be allowed to travel under the bridge.
In order to prevent accidents, the HCM City Police Department will conduct a survey on bridges.
Signs boards and barriers to protect bridge pillars will then be installed.
Regular inspections will be conducted on the city’s rivers, Mẫn said, adding that most accidents are caused by vessel crew members.
According to the HCM City Department of Transport, the city has more than 1,000 km of waterways.
Outlying districts like Nhà Bè, Bình Chánh, and Củ Chi have several old bridges.
This is not the first time the North – South Railway has been disconnected due to a barge or boat colliding with the bridge.
In November last year, a barge carrying sand crashed into Bình Lợi Bridge, damaging the railway track.
The railway operation was suspended for several hours and several trains were cancelled.
According to statistics, since 2009 there have been dozens of cases of barges or boats crashing into Bình Lợi Bridge, affecting the operation of the railway.
In 2014, a barge broke a span of Hóa An Bridge, which is less than 1km away from Ghềnh Bridge. Investigators said the crew had been drinking. — VNS