Under-Construction Flyover’s Support Column Collapses in Rangoon

By Nyein Nyein 9 July 2013

A column of steel reinforcing bars collapsed on Monday at an under-construction overpass in Rangoon, where one of several infrastructure projects is ongoing as city planners in the commercial capital grapple with an influx of new vehicles in recent years.

The two-way overpass, known as the Bayint Naung flyover, has been under construction since last year and is slated for completion by December of this year. No one was injured in the collapse on Monday.

An engineer at the construction site told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the vertical steel frame, which was to support the flyover’s largest concrete post, was struck by a crane, bending its rods to the ground.

“The concrete post did not fall down,” he said. “It was an accident, while we were pouring cement for the concrete post. We had already poured five feet of cement at the base. After that we used a crane for higher cementing as it is the highest post [supporting the middle of the bridge]. So the crane hit the rod frame and the frame fell down as the rods at a height of 15-20 feet were snapped.”

Bayint Naung, a bustling intersection of commerce and cars, sits at a junction where roads from Mayangone, Insein, Thirimingala and Hlaing Tharyar townships meet.

Monday’s accident was the construction site’s first, the engineer said, adding that appropriate workplace safety practices were being followed. Construction of the flyover, which has employed crews working both day and night shifts, is being overseen by Burmese and Thai engineers.

The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has undertaken the construction of several overpasses to alleviate increasing congestion in Burma’s former capital. In April, the Hledan overpass on Prome Road, a main Rangoon artery, was opened after commuters suffered through traffic snarls for years, with the congestion peaking last year as its six lanes were reduced to just two.

Like Bayint Naung, the Shwe Gon Daing overpass in downtown Rangoon is also slowing the flow of traffic near that construction site.

Both overpasses are set to be completed by the end of this year, according to Captain Sithu Lwin, deputy head of the YCDC’s Roads and Bridges Department. He recently told The Irrawaddy that crews are also repairing the roads and their drainage systems to reduce flooding.

Sithu Lwin said about 40 percent of the Shwe Gon Daing overpass is completed, while about 60 percent of construction is done at the Bayint Naung flyover.

The overpasses’ construction, while ultimately intended to ease traffic congestion, has tested some drivers’ patience as projects have temporarily narrowed roads amid a flood of new vehicles on Rangoon’s streets in recent years.

“The Shwe Gon Daing overpass construction does not seem to progress,” said Zaw Myo Htun, a commuter who passes by the construction site daily on the way to his job in the Sule Pagoda area. The project had worsened traffic and flooding in the area, he added.

Another engineer at the Shwe Gon Daing overpass said one reason for slow progress at the construction site was the need to avoid underground water pipes laid there. The frequent rains that mark the current monsoon season were another cause for delay, he said.

Additional reporting by May Sitt Paing.