Steel bridges in Champassak to be replaced
Steel bridges located along National Road No. 20 in Champassak province, which is an important transport link to other southern provinces, will soon be replaced by concrete bridges.
An official from the Public Works and Transport Department, Mr Somsavanh Phommachanh, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday he was expecting the bridges to be replaced by 2020.
There are about six old steel bridges along Road No. 20 but there are many more of these sorts of bridges along secondary roads throughout the province.
“Provincial bridge repair technicians are fixing viaducts almost daily in order to make the roads safe for motorists, but the bridges remain in disrepair due to their deterioration over many years,” he said.
The old steel Huaychampy Bridge in Champassak has yet to be repaired or replaced after a semitrailer carrying an excavator caused the bridge to collapse in November last year.
The Sahalao Service Company, which owns the semitrailer that was carrying the excavator, has only built a temporary unpaved road next to the bridge so that vehicles can cross the shallow river.
The bridge had a weight limit of about 20 tonnes but the semitrailer together with the excavator weighed nearly 40 tonnes. Residents of Pakxong district want departmental officials to insist that the company builds a concrete bridge.
The six steel bridges on Road No. 20 are crucial for the transport of people and goods through Saravan, Xekong, Champassak and Attapeu provinces.
Mr Somsavanh said that compared to the three other provinces, Champassak does not have many steel bridges.
Governor of Pakxong district Mr Vichith Keobuapha said there is only one steel bridge in his area after another bridge collapsed into the Champy stream.
The old bridge in Pakxong will also be replaced by a concrete structure in the future.
According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, heavy vehicles are the main cause of damage to roads and bridges, which are deteriorating on a daily basis. Increasingly, trucks carrying timber, cement, rocks, excavators and other heavy loads are plying the country's somewhat fragile roads.
Most roads are surfaced with asphalt, are seven metres wide and are adequate for cars but are not considered strong enough to bear trucks carrying loads in excess of 9.1 tonnes per axle.
Business operators from China and Vietnam have asked Laos to consider upgrading road links to provinces in these countries.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update February 9, 2017)