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Footbridges Replaced in Luang Prabang to Allow River Crossings

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Local authorities and residents have built temporary wooden footbridges after the previous structures collapsed at the end of last month in Viengkham district, Luang Prabang province.

Three bridges are being replaced, with two already completed and the third still under construction and expected to be finished this week.

Villagers have been pressing for stronger bridges for use by local communities to cross the river, especially schoolchildren.

Deputy Governor of Viengkham district, Mr Sayphone Chanthoumma, told Vientiane Times the first bridge, located in Viengkham village, is 10 metres long and 3 metres wide and can bear loads of up to about 2.5 tonnes.

The second bridge is in Vangbay village, not far from a wooden footbridge that collapsed last month, while the third is being constructed in Vangherng village.

Two of the bridges can carry only 15-20 people at a time and are about 100 metres long and 1 metre wide.

Mr Sayphone said local communities had cooperated well in helping to build the bridges and cut trees to make the wood needed.

The bridges will be used for only one year and residents will build new ones every year until more permanent structures are built. Construction is easier now that the river level has dropped.

The bridges will be of most benefit to schoolchildren, who have been unable to attend classes since the old bridges broke. Mr Sayphone said he expected they would be able to go to school as normal after the third bridge is complete.

“District authorities plan to build a concrete bridge to replace the wooden footbridge that collapsed in Vangbay village last month, Mr Sayphone said.

“We have submitted plans to provincial authorities and have received authorisation to go ahead with the work but have yet to finalise a start date.”

The old bridge collapsed last month, sending 52 people who were on it at the time into the river below. Two children drowned and the rest had to be rescued from the water.

The bridge was installed in 2013 but was not opened to the public at that time because some aspects of construction were found to be substandard.

After these problems were addressed, the bridge opened for use in 2015, mainly by people living along both sides of the river in Vangbay village.

 

Source: Vientiane Times