Bridge Collapses Again Under Truck’s Weight

A wood and steel bridge connecting Battambang to Pailin collapsed Friday for the second time in three weeks, officials said Sunday.

The O’Takry bridge in Ratanak Mondol district’s Treng commune gave way when a truck driver en route from Thailand on Route 57 ignored a sign prohibiting loads heavier than 25 tons, deputy district police chief Ros Limsoeun said.

Nobody was injured in this most recent collapse of the 24-meter-long bridge, which previously fell in 1999, late 2006 and on Aug 21 of this year.

“This time, the bridge was more seriously damaged than in Aug­ust,” he said. “Renovations finished two weeks ago.”

Trucks are supposed to use a detour nearby that takes them through a shallow section of the creek that the bridge passes over. During rainstorms, crossing that shallow section becomes more difficult, so drivers often take their chances with the bridge, he said.

About 20 large trucks travel on the bridge and over the 6-meter-deep chasm every day despite warning signs, he said. With no weigh stations along Route 57, drivers don’t always know the tonnage they are hauling, he said.

Provincial Public Works and Transportation Director Khan Manner said the $6,000 renovation completed in August adequately repaired the bridge, but the truck that brought it down Friday weigh­ed more than double the 25-ton limit, he said. Reconstructing the bridge again will take about 10days, he said.

Khan Manner added that work on upgrading 103 km of Route 57 will begin in October, and Chinese contractors will eventually replace the problematic bridge with a stronger, concrete structure.

Khan Manner said there are no plans to hire someone to prevent the drivers of large trucks from making the mistake again. The sign should have been clear enough but didn’t do the trick, he said.

“As we know, in Cambodia, the driver never obeys the rules,” he said.

Sin Soeut, 52, the driver of the overloaded truck, will pay about $6,000 to cover the cost of repairing the bridge, he said.

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