U Bein Bridge closed to pedestrians amid flooding
A SUDDEN, rapid influx of water into Mandalay’s Taungthaman Lake has forced authorities to block access to the city’s famed U Bein Bridge. Barriers were erected on both sides of the bridge to block pedestrian access on August 1 after the waters of the lake rose almost to the level of the bridge walkway.
This is the first time since 2004 that the bridge has been closed because of the threat of flooding. The cause is the sudden influx of water from the Ayeyarwady River.
U Nyat Gyi, secretary of Taungthaman Boat Association, said, “On the afternoon of July 31 the level of the Ayeyarwady River suddenly rose. The east and west entrances of U Bein Bridge were closed off by wooden barriers at 9:30am the next day in order to prevent access. The water is still rising.”
Local resident U Kyaw Soe, of Shwe Goon Toot ward near the bridge, said the river had risen 2 feet (0.6 metres) over the danger level as water entered through Sagaing Myit Nge River into the lake. Traffic has been banned from the west orbital road of Taungthaman Lake leading to the bridge.
“The lake water is already thighdeep on the orbital road. Ayeyarwady River water has been flooding into the lake all night since mid-afternoon yesterday. Four townships around the lake and the bridge are also flooded,” he said on August 1.
Some visitors have taken to boats to row along beside the bridge, some stretches of which have already been swamped.
“In 2004, some of the bridge’s pillars were swept into the water during the flooding at that time. So far the present flooding is not as bad, but it could be if it keeps rising over the next few days. In 2004, it took almost a month for the waters to recede,” said U Nyat Gyi.
The city official U Bein, a clerk to the Mayor of Amarapura township, used more than 1000 teak pillars to build the bridge that bears his name about 160 years ago. Sunset views from the bridge are a major attraction for foreign and domestic visitors. As of August 1, two stretches around pillar number 220 were underwater, and in most of the rest of the bridge the water had reached the top of the pillars.
– Translation by Emoon
Water rises to the level of famed U Bein Bridge on August 1.