Police: Bolts Taken From Bridge Before Collapse

In the wake of the collapse of the Kbal Romeas bridge this weekend in Kampot province, military police said on Monday that they had re­cently arrested metal scavengers for stealing the bridge’s bolts.

Motorcyclists traveling between Kam­pot and Kep municipality have been forced to resort to taking a boat ferry across the expanse of water that the bridge spanned. Car and truck drivers, however, must take a 21-km detour between the two destinations.

Em Sarun, deputy commander of Kampot district military police, said an overloaded truck was not the only factor in the bridge’s collapse.

In the past five months, military po­licemen have arrested scavengers taking bolts from below the bridge and reported the thefts to the public works office, he said.

“We reported the theft of bridge me­­tal but I doubted they would take serious preventive action,” Em Sarun said.

“The bridge lost bolts and there is such an overload of trucks, that’s why the bridge fell easily,” he said.

Kampot Public Works Director Lim Sambo said he has made an em­er­gency funding request for up to $25,000 to renovate 11 km of the de­tour.

“I am making a request to the Mini­stry of Public Works and Tran­s­­port so that we could get mon­ey to help fix this shortcut,” Lim Sambo said.

“I can say that dri­vers traveling from Phnom Penh to Kep benefit by this shortcut of 11 km. But those in Kam­pot and Kep have no such gains because they have to drive the 21 km between the two areas.”

Lim Sambo said his authority would call first for the renovation of the detour road and then discuss the possibility of constructing a new bridge. He added that his of­fice had filed a com­­plaint with the prov­incial court against the owners of sev­eral over­load­ed salt trucks that were traveling over the bridge when it collapsed early Fri­day morn­ing. No one was in­jured in the collapse.

Math Ly, a fisherman who is now ferrying villagers across the river, appealed to the government to fix the bridge and punish the truck owner.

“The government has to punish the truck drivers and make officials be responsible,” Math Ly said.

 

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