Authorities impounded nine large trucks yesterday for crossing the Chroy Changvar bridge, on which a weight limit was recently imposed to take pressure off of a cracked pillar on the structure’s eastern approach segment.
The stops came as Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Japanese Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ohta to seek that country’s help in renovating the nearly 50-year-old structure, part of which was rebuilt with Japanese funding in 1993.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to Japan via Akihiro Ohta … to ask for repairs [for the bridge],” Eang Sophalleth, Hun Sen’s personal spokesman, told reporters following the meeting.
Masahiko Egami, head of ground transport issues at Japan International Cooperation Agency, said that he had already received the government’s request for assistance and that experts were inspecting the bridge, in line with standard procedure.
“They have requested a Japanese grant … and it depends on the inspection of the soundness of the bridge,” he said. “We need time to examine the appropriateness of the project, and we need to get the approval of the Japanese government.”
Egami said that his agency is attempting to expedite the consideration process, which could otherwise take up to six months. Given the age of the bridge’s approaches, he added, it could make sense to replace some structures, but the bridge’s main span, rebuilt in 1993, may still be sound.
Meanwhile, authorities yesterday placed barriers at either end of the Chroy Changvar bridge, limiting the height of vehicles able to cross after it was found that trucks over the 3-tonne limit were still using the bridge when police were absent, according to Chroy Changvar commune chief Pich Saroeun.
“We just put it there because we still had some truck drivers who did not obey the Phnom Penh municipality’s ban when police weren’t controlling it all the time,” he said.
The nine vehicles impounded yesterday are being held at the Chroy Changvar district office until their owners come to pay their fines and sign contracts promising not to flout the truck ban again, Saroeun added.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STUART WHITE