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Traffic passes over Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar Bridge
Traffic passes over Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar Bridge yesterday afternoon. Phnom Penh authorities have announced that the bridge will be closed for five days so that damaged areas can be inspected. Eli Meixler

Bridge closing for inspection

The Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge – also known as the Chroy Changvar Bridge – will be closed until Friday starting today, to allow a team of Japanese experts to examine damage to support columns discovered last year, the city announced.

“We would like to announce to all residents [and] passengers to know that the Chroy Changvar Bridge will be closed temporarily for crossing starting from 2 February for Japanese experts to examine the details of the bridge’s damage,” the announcement letter said.

The bridge will be reopened when the examination is complete, and a starting date for any necessary repairs has not yet been set, according to the city.

Phnom Penh resident Chan Van, 30, said that she had just found out about the closure, and that while it was sure to result in significant delays, she had no choice but to abide by the order.

“We will obey the authorities’ announcement. [But] the bridge will have a traffic jam due to them closing it,” she said.

However, the recently completed Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge, which runs parallel to the Japanese one, will remain open, and police insisted yesterday that measures were being put in place to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.

“We are ready to [manage] traffic to avoid traffic jams to make it easy for passengers,” said a traffic police officer assigned to the bridge, who declined to be named.

The Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge was first constructed in the 1960s, but its central span was destroyed during Cambodia’s decades-long civil war. While that segment was replaced in the 1990s with funds and expert assistance from the Japanese government, the bridge’s approach segments are holdovers from the original structure.

The bridge has been closed to vehicles weighing more than 3 tonnes since the middle of last year, shortly after cracks were discovered in the eastern approach segment. In the meantime, temporary pylons were added in the affected area to provide additional support.

Prime Minister Hun Sen first sought Japan’s help in renovating the structure in a meeting with Japanese Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ohta last year.

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