Friday, October 28 2016


Hà Nội’s dangerous bridges

Update: July, 21/2016 - 11:31
Tía temporary bridge in Ứng Hòa District, Hà Nội. As the 2016 rainy season in the north begins, thousands of Hanoians are traveling on temporary bridges that have stood for a long time. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — As the 2016 rainy season in the north begins, thousands of Hanoians are traveling on temporary bridges that have stood for a long time.

In four outlying districts, there are many degraded bridges that are a threat to residents. Hà Nội authorities estimated that there are dozens of temporary and pontoon bridges scattered across these areas.

Local authorities of the districts, between 20 and 30km away from downtown Hà Nội, have no plans for comprehensive repair or the construction of new ones.

Nguyễn Văn Hoạt, chairman of Mỹ Đức District People’s Committee said these were temporary bridges built from contributions by local residents aiming at serving village traffic so have not received proper investment over the years.

But, the chairman said, these bridges were not included in the Hà Nội City’s transport planning scheme. The district authorities have no plans and no funds for the upgrade of these bridges.

"Three to four weeks ago, I was given information that a local drunk man died when he travelled on the bridge and fell into the river,” he said “Such bridges always endanger human lives and must be removed" he added. Local residents were poor, supported mainly by farming, so authorities could not mobilise money for repair or new temporary bridges, according to the chairman, while the local authorities’ budget was limited. 

Chief Inspector of the city’s Department of Transport, Trần Đăng Hải said "The degraded bridges that endanger road users must be checked by local authorities or even banned.”

 “Local authorities must bear responsibility for accidents involving decayed bridges." In fact, there have been State-invested bridges built in some communities. But local residents have chosen to travel on temporary bridges because it’s more convenient for them to get to work.

Decaying bridges

Local residents (of districts Mỹ Đức, Ứng Hòa, Sóc Sơn and Chương Mỹ) have risked their lives on such bridges, facing possible collapse at any time.

An official said on condition of anonymity, authorities would not provide investment funding for the bridge because it’s out of local authorities’ planning scheme.

At Phương Nhị village in Thanh Oai District, a temporary bridge spanning Nhuệ River was built about 20 years by local people, designed by amateur architects and built using their own financial contribution.

At Mỹ Đức District, there is a similar bridge spanning the Đáy River. Named Sêu Bridge, the VNĐ100 million-invested (US$4,900) bridge built in 1996 was a costly endeavour by district residents at that time.

But as time passed, the bridge has fallen into disrepair because there were no funds for upgrading it.

The 22-year-old Phú Hữu Bridge also spanning Đáy River, linking Mỹ Đức with Ứng Hòa districts, was designed with a surface of timber, including iron handrails and concrete boats as bridge supports.     

The bridge stood on solid foundations when it was officially put into operation. However, over the last 22 years, there was insufficient funds for repair so the timber surface has rotted, threatening the lives of users. — VNS


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