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Bridge is nothing to fear: gov’t

Children look at the erosion around a foundation of the Prek Tamak Bridge
Children look at the erosion around a foundation of the Prek Tamak Bridge yesterday in Kandal province. Heng Chivoan

Bridge is nothing to fear: gov’t

A riverbank collapse under the Prek Tamak Bridge in Kandal province will not affect the safety of people using the crossing, officials have said.

Flooding in November at the site of the bridge in Kandal’s Muk Kampol district caused a landslide, with the subsequent receding water level and rains leading to further erosion and worries for locals who use the bridge to cross the Mekong River.

But Lem Sideyning, secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said that, following an inspection, the ministry had determined that there were no structural problems with the bridge.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Sideyning wrote that the ministry would be dispatching a team to build a dam in an attempt to ease locals’ fears over a possible bridge collapse.

“According to our inspection, there are no problems with the bridge. But we will send a technical team to inspect it again and build a dam to improve the way the riverbank looks,” he said.

“But please, people, do not feel bad or afraid,” he added.

The letter was issued following a campaign on social networking website Face-book, where locals expressed concern over the erosion of the riverbank next to the bridge.

Buon Sokhorn, a local in Prey Veng province’s Pearang district who regularly crosses the bridge, said many people were alarmed at the extent of the exposure of the foundations of the bridge.

“I can see that there are no foundations below the bridge’s pillar; there’s only the concrete floor, and now the soil has gone,” he said.

“I worry that [the landslide] might cause damage to the bridge or cause accidents to travellers who will use the bridge.”

The bridge was built by Chinese firm Shanghai Construction Group.

Company representatives could not be reached yesterday. Chinese Embassy spokesman Cheng Hong Bo said he was unaware of the problems with the bridge, also known as the third China-Cambodia Friendship Bridge, and a representative of the commerce department at the embassy could not be reached.

Yeun Sarat, Muk Kampul district military commander, said the Shanghai Construction Group had carried out the inspection after the initial landslide on November 23 and had concluded that there was no danger to users.

“The bridge’s foundations are 30 metres deep, it’s not just a few metres, and there is a 200-metre road in-between the first and last pillars, so the people should not worry about it,” he said.

The $43.5 million bridge, financed largely with a loan from the Chinese government, was inaugurated in January 2011 after construction began in June 2007.

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