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Vietnam earmarks $15.4 mil for bridges in remote areas
By Thanh Nien News -
A suspension bridge that collapsed in Lai Chau Province, killing eight people February 24

The government has approved
the building of bridges in remote areas in the northern and central regions, which now make do with dangerous makeshift bridges,at a cost of nearly VND325 billion (US$15.4 million).
The project would prioritize routes to schools, government offices, medical centers, and areas where traffic is cut off by flooding during the monsoon, news website VnExpress reported.
Local administrations have to bear the cost of acquiring land and relocating people and local people are encouraged to help with the construction.
The lack of bridges in highland areas causes particular difficulties, especially for children going to school. They mostly resort to boats though rivers in these areas are rough, which often resulted in fatal drownings, especially in the rainy season.
Poor bridges pose another threat.
This photo report by Tuoi Tre newspaper shows locals in Lai Chau Province in the northern mountains struggling every day with makeshift bridges built by the locals themselves using bamboo.
Children in Khon Doi village of Tam Duong District cross a shaky bridge that is 60 meters long and more than 10 meters above a river to go to school early in the morning. It was built by locals three years ago using cables they took from a dismantled bridge.

People in Tan Uyen District go to their fields on a bridge held together with ropes.

A basket of rocks tied to a bridge in Tam Duong to prevent the latter from being swept away by floods.

Tree trunks inserted into each other make this bridge.

Lo Van Dam (left), head of Khon Doi village, and a local man fix this bridge as they do every month. Dam said the village has more than 70 people who rely on the bridge, half of them children and old people. He said the bridge is always a challenge and people are even more scared after a bridge collapsed in the region, killing eight people. “We have to use it as there is no other way. We have been asking authorities for a proper bridge for more than three years now.”

An iron suspension bridge

Locals take a roundabout route after the bridge (left) collapsed

People gather on a bridge during a festival, which increases the risk of collapse. Doan Duc Long, director of the Lai Chau Department of Transport, said there are nearly 140 such suspension bridges in the province, many of them falling apart, while the number of makeshift bridges is not known.

The rotten wood and bamboo floor of a makeshift bridge.

Two boys maneuver a raft made of bamboo. Such rafts have to be used when bridges are swept away during the monsoon floods.

People walk their motorbikes over a bridge in Than Uyen District in the dark. Dieu Van Binh, a 60-year-old local, said they have to build a new bridge after every monsoon. He said people fall off the bridge every other day. “We have no dreams other than a strong bridge.”

A mother takes her son through to school in Tam Duong District.

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