The Irrawaddy

State Counselor Orders that Myaungmya Bridge Be Rebuilt Within a Year

The collapsed Myaungmya Bridge is seen on April 10. ( Photo: Salai Thant Zin / The Irrawaddy)

PATHEIN—State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has given local authorities one year to replace the collapsed bridge linking Myaungmya and Labutta townships with Irrawaddy Region’s capital, Pathein.

The State Counselor visited the site of the bridge, which collapsed earlier this month, after attending peace talks with locals in Myaungmya on Tuesday morning.

“The State Counselor instructed that the bridge should be completed within one year. She wants to resolve the transportation difficulties that people are facing as soon as possible. We will therefore adjust the original design and build a steel truss structure. We promised her we would complete it within one year,” Irrawaddy Region Transport Minister U Win Htay told The Irrawaddy.

Two people in a truck died when the bridge collapsed on April 1. The Ministry of Construction released a statement a few days later saying that the collapse was due to a design flaw in the bridge.

Bridges in Myanmar are examined twice a year for maintenance and measures have been taken by the Ministry of Construction to prevent the collapse of any other suspension bridges, the ministry said in a statement.

The bridge was opened to the public on March 27, 1996, and collapsed after 22 years of service.

Last year, Parliament approved Myaungmya Township lawmaker Dr. Soe Moe Thu’s proposal to build a new bridge in Myaungmya at a cost of over 6 billion kyats. The lawmaker said the bridge had suffered structural damage as a result of overweight aid convoys crossing the bridge in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

Construction of a new bridge started in December and was originally scheduled for completion in 2020. Before then the regional government will arrange large boats for travelers and vehicles.

So far, the regional government has arranged for two big boats to carry cars across the river, but passengers have had to wait for hours because of the large number of passenger and cargo vehicles crossing the river.

“Passenger buses from Labutta, which leave there early in the morning, have to wait for the whole day in Myaumgmya to get to the other side of the river. Ferry operators are allowing passenger buses from Myaungmya to jump the queue. I would like to urge the regional government to systematize the ferry service,” U Khin Maung Win, chairman of the White Hearts social organization based in Labutta, told The Irrawaddy.