A steel bridge in Mondulkiri province’s Pech Chreada district snapped in half on Monday under the weight of a truck police said was carrying more than twice the weight the structure was rated for.
According to Chreum Bren, Pech Chreada’s deputy police chief, the Hyundai truck was carrying a load of bricks and cement from Sen Monorom town to a construction material depot in Pech Chreada when the bridge, located in Sre Ampoum commune, collapsed underneath it.
“In fact, [the bridge] does not allow a load of more than 20 or 25 tonnes, but the truck was loaded with about 50 tonnes,” Bren said, adding that the truck was finally removed yesterday evening.
“They did not obey the regulation, so the problem occurred,” he continued, saying the vehicle was owned by a local small business that had come forward to accept responsibility for the cost of repairs, which remained unknown yesterday.
According to Bren, the driver of the truck only sustained a slight head injury, and although the truck was seemingly in violation of the Traffic Law, the owners wouldn’t face additional punishment as long as they covered the cost of the damage.
After the incident, Mondulkiri Provincial Hall issued a statement warning that the bridge was out, and referring to the passage as “an important route to the Bousraa [waterfall] tourist attraction site”.
Provincial Governor Eng Bunheang could not be reached for comment, but Heak Sophan, director of the provincial administration, said that the public transportation department was examining the case.
Nuon Sarorn, Pech Chreada district governor, said that the bridge was built in 2006 or 2007, and said that plans were in the works for a detour where people could ford the river, which is low this time of year, as well as for a temporary bridge to allow tourist buses to cross.
Sok Rotha, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, insisted that those responsible be held accountable.
“They violated the law. The owner is guilty if they do not take responsibility for the damage,” Rotha said.