pailin – Traffic has been backed up along National Road 10, the only route between Battambang and Pailin, for three days due to a bridge collapse and thwarted repair efforts.
It is the second time this year that the bridge, located on the Battambang-Pailin border, has collapsed, locals said. Last time traffic was backed up for a week, they said.
Pailin traffic police officer Ear Thy said that overloaded trucks caused the 6- to 7-meter-long bridge to collapse on Oct 3 but authorities built a mud detour.
Three days ago, however, authorities dug up that detour in an effort to shore up the collapsed bridge. The result has not been pretty.
A trickle of cars and light trucks has been able to cross the muddy bridge—a crossing that requires an ingenious application of winches, large stones and raw manpower. Motorcycles simply power through deep pits of wet, sticky earth—all that remains of the detour.
The larger trucks that ply the busy route, however, are stuck.
Ear Thy estimated that more than 200 trucks normally traverse this road each day. He is not sure when they will be allowed to pass the downed bridge.
On Monday afternoon, several hundred trucks were parked in the slick, sucking mud as men strung up hammocks in the shade.
“Tonight maybe we will have no food to eat,” said Po Mao, 28, a worker on a truck transporting corn, who has been sleeping under his vehicle for two days and two nights already.
Lim Kunthy said he had seven trucks parked on the road, with 15 tons of corn from Samlot and Ratanak Mondul districts that he planned to sell in Thailand.
“It’s already two days and two nights, the quality of our product goes down,” said Lim Kunthy, who spent Monday afternoon at a roadside restaurant drinking cans of Crown beer.
Long Thal, 49, who owns the restaurant, said that his daily revenue has doubled to 200,000 riel since the traffic backed up two days ago.
Of his new customers Long Thal added: “If we don’t sell to them, they will starve.”