Never-end­ing re­pair needs at U Bein Bridge con­tinue

The Myanmar Times - - News - PHYO WAI KYAW phy­owaikyaw@mm­

DE­SPITE ex­ten­sive re­pairs and ren­o­va­tions al­ready car­ried out ear­lier this year, pil­lars of Man­dalay’s famed U Bein Bridge still need work. U Soe Win, chair of the Taungthaman Boat As­so­ci­a­tion, said the ren­o­va­tion of the bridge, which spans Taungthaman Lake in Amara­pura town­ship, was far from com­plete.

Rot­ting beams and ru­ined flooring were re­placed by the Myan­mar Teak­wood com­pany last March at what U Nyo Myint Tun, direc­tor of the Man­dalay branch of the Depart­ment of Ar­chae­ol­ogy, Na­tional Mu­seum and Li­brary, said was a cost of about K240 mil­lion.

U Soe Win said ex­ten­sive re­pairs had also been car­ried out in 2014 with more than K13 mil­lion from the re­gional gov­ern­ment. How­ever, de­spite reg­u­lar and ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions, much work re­mained to be done at the west end of the struc­ture.

“As many as 280 pil­lars have al­ready been re­placed. But there are 350 to 400 pil­lars at the west end that also have to be re­placed. In some place, there are gaps where a pil­lar should be, and flooring and beams also have to be re­placed,” he said yes­ter­day.

He said that the struc­ture of the bridge was still weak and some parts were pre­car­i­ous. As re­cently as Au­gust 1, pedes­tri­ans were tem­po­rar­ily banned from walk­ing on the bridge af­ter flood­ing had reached the walk­way it­self.

“To­day, we are go­ing to dis­cuss this is­sue with the min­is­ter,” said direc­tor U Nyo Myint Tun.

Au­thor­i­ties com­plain that bridge users some­times drop cig­a­rettes into holes in the pil­lars, caus­ing fires, or drop lit­ter, in­clud­ing plas­tic and bags of be­tel spit­tle. Some ride bi­cy­cles on the bridge and Thingyan merry-mak­ers have even been known to shake the bridge.

“We get more and more for­eign­ers com­ing here now. Thou­sands have come here ev­ery day since Oc­to­ber,” said U Soe Win.

The bridge was built in the Myan­mar Era 1211 (around 1850) by Mayor U Bein, with 1086 teak pil­lars and four pub­lic rest houses.

– Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar

Photo: Phyo Wai Kyaw

Tourists hire a boat at Taungthaman Lake and U Bein Bridge ear­lier this year.

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