The Kandal provincial Department of Public Works and Transport temporarily closed waterway traffic passing the Prek Tamak Bridge on Monday, after a 400-tonne sand barge got stranded on the bridge’s base the previous day.
Department director Moeng Youleng told The Post the sand barge was moving down the Mekong River when its engine broke down, and it was swept by strong currents towards the bridge. No one was injured in the accident.
“Cambodian and Chinese specialists haven’t been able to assess any damage caused by the accident as strong currents on the rising Mekong River have hampered the efforts. Therefore, we’ve decided to temporally close the waterway traffic as a precaution,” he said.
Youleng said as of Monday evening, repeated attempts to pull the sand barge from the bridge’s base had failed.
However, traffic on the bridge was not affected, according to Mok Kampoul district traffic police chief Ung Sitha. “Big and small vehicles can still travel on the bridge as usual,” he said.
Built on a $43.5 million Chinese loan and inaugurated in 2010, the Prek Tamak bridge is 1,060m long and 13.5 wide.
Sitha said local authorities met with bridge specialists and the sand barge owner on Monday to find ways to pull the 400-tonne barge. All parties initially agreed to either dredge at least a half load of the sand from the barge or tow it away with at least two other empty barges.
He said three ships were used to pull the barge away without removing the sand, but the attempts were unsuccessful.
“They used a rope to tie the barge to the three towing ships, but it did not budge, and the rope even snapped,” he said.
Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol also brought a technical team on Monday to inspect the bridge.
The barge owner, Chan Na, said he assumed full responsibility for any damages caused.
“I was not there during the accident, and the sand barge captain has escaped. But I was told that before the accident, the barge got stranded after a near-miss with a tourist ship,” he said.