|Students of Bèo Bọt Village take a boat to school. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Nam|
THANH HÓA — Almost 400 residents of Bèo Bọt Village, situated on the left bank of the Mã River in a remote area of central Thanh Hóa Province, have expressed their desire for a bridge to be constructed to facilitate their daily commutes to work and school.
The village, in Cẩm Thành Commune, Cẩm Thủy District, has been secluded from other regions for centuries, with a limestone mountain range obstructing movement from the rear and the river obstructing movement from the front.
Bèo Bọt Village, inhabited predominantly by the Thai ethnic community, consists of 87 households.
The only way they can cross the Mã River is to take a boat carrying 12 people at a time.
Eighty-three village students from kindergarten to high school must take the boat daily to class.
Lê Thị Lệ, a ninth grader of Cẩm Thành Secondary School, said she has to take the boat four times a day to school.
“I wake up at 6am in the winter to wait for the boat. After taking the boat, I have to travel 8km to get to school,” she told Vietnam News Agency.
Bùi Thị Ngọc, a fifth grader of Cẩm Thành Primary School, has to take the boat four times a day to go to school although the school is only 1km from her house.
“It is not safe to take the boat when the water is rising in the rainy season or when the hydropower plant releases water,” she said.
Bèo Bọt boat station is always crowded in the morning with adults and children waiting for the boat to cross the river to get to work and school.
Cao Ngọc Hoan, a boat rider working on the river for tens of years, said: “We have a one-hour break from 12am to 1pm to have lunch. But due to high travelling demand, sometimes someone gets sick, or children have to go to class, we have a quick lunch and skip the break to continue the work.”
According to Hà Thị Liễu, a teacher at Cẩm Thành Primary School, the school has 44 students from Bèo Bọt Village.
In the rainy season or when the hydroelectric power discharges water, residents are anxious every time they take a boat across the river.
She said that children from Bèo Bọt Village are often absent from class during the stormy season because no family dare to let their children cross the river in bad weather conditions.
This interrupts studies, and children from the village can not participate in extra curriculum activities regularly.
“A bridge connecting two banks of the Mã River is the dream of villagers and teachers,” Liễu said.
The life of Bèo Bọt villagers has improved in recent years thanks to their rice and bamboo farming. But all of the daily affairs of local people still depend on one boat.
Bùi Tiến Dũng, chairman of Cẩm Thành Commune People’s Committee, said despite difficulties, all children from the village could go to school at the right ages. None of them dropped out of school.
The proposal to build a bridge had been made for decades. Every year it was raised once again, but due to a shortage of funds, it was not easy to build a bridge across the river, he said.
He said that local authorities had submitted the proposal to higher authorities and wished a new bridge would be built soon. — VNS