HCM CITY (VNS)— HCM City's Old Binh Loi Bridge, the first ever to be built across the Sai Gon River, faces a high risk of collapse as vessels sailing under it routinely flout safety norms, sailing during high tide and bump into it, authorities said.
Built in 1902, the bridge linking Binh Thanh and Thu Duc districts has a train track and two lanes for two-wheel vehicles.
Over the past few years boats and barges have caused several accidents by sailing under the bridge even when the water level is high.
The latest occurred in December when an oil tanker got stuck in the bridge after its captain tried to sail underneath during high tide despite warnings from officials regulating waterway traffic.
City rescue forces had to spend around two hours to extricate the tanker.
The officials said they are unable to prevent such violations because they do not have the authority to penalise offenders, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
Nguyen Toan Man, head of the bridge's traffic regulating station, said competent agencies should install electronic boards to indicate the water level and warn vessels not to try and sail beneath the bridge.
The railways should install warning lights and reflecting paint on the bridge so that ships can clearly assess the clearance they have, he said.
It should be made mandatory for boats to follow the instructions from the Traffic Regulating Station, he added.
Vu Trung Ta, director of River Management Zone No.10, which manages the section of the river, said the waterway police and Transport Department's Inspectorate should help regulate traffic under the bridge since they have the authority to penalise violators.
The city should erect barriers to prevent boats from sailing under the bridge when the clearance is inadequate, he said. — VNS