Bridge Work a ‘Dire Need’ Despite Repairs

A collapsed railway bridge in Kampot town has been re-op­ened, but other bridges are in dan­ger of similar cave-ins, ac­cording to Cambodia’s National Railway director.

Pic Kimsreng said 64 additional bridges stretching from Siha­noukville to Battambang province are in poor condition and the de­partment lacks the money to fix them.

“I’m still worried about the capacity of these other bridges because they’re too old,” he said Tues­day.

In February, the 250-meter long bridge stretching over a river in Kam­pot town collapsed un­der the weight of a train. Re­pairs to the bridge, which re-op­ened June 7, cost the government $90,000.

For the last four months, shippers wishing to transport goods from Sihanoukville port to the capital had to transfer loads from trains on opposite sides of the bridge by truck, Kampot Gov­ernor Kum Kim Teng said.

Fifteen of the bridges between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh are in dire need of repair, according to Kum Kim Teng.

Rust, normal wear and mines planted by now-defected rebels have caused the damage, he said. Repairs made on these bridges over the last 10 years were temporary, the governor said.

Smaller accidents are common, Pic Kimsreng said. About six small accidents happen every month, he said, but since trains are told to travel at 20 km per hour, they are not serious.

Svay To, chief of accounting for the railway, said if the department needs more money for new eq­uip­ment or major repairs, the budget must come from the government.

Profits from freight and passengers go toward minor repairs and salaries for the employees. If a major accident occurs, even that source could be cut off, he said.

“If the train doesn’t run, we will lose income to feed our families,” Svay To said.


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