The Union government has stumped up almost US$200,000 for urgent repairs to Mandalay’s U Bein Bridge, a popular tourist attraction that some have warned is in danger of collapse.
The Mandalay Region government will use the K227 million ($199,500) in funding to undertake major repairs at the teak bridge, according to Minister for Finance U Myint Kyu.
The 1210-metre (3967-foot) bridge spans Taungthaman Lake and is built entirely from teak pillars and other timber salvaged from nearby Inwa Palace after the royal capital was shifted to Amarapura. Construction began in 1849.
As well as replacing damaged and worn sections of the bridge, officials plan to install electric lighting and post security staff to prevent vandalism and other crime.
U Myint Kyu said the funding had been provided at the request of the regional government, which wants to take action to preserve the bridge for future generations.
“Security is weak at the moment,” U Myint Kyu admitted. “A lot of visitors come on holidays and they shake the bridge while they are drunk. At night, some people drink alcohol in groups on the bridge. We will also ban cyclists and motorcyclists.
“Security staff will be posted at the entrances to the bridge and we will place electric lights along it.”
Archaeologists and engineers will cooperate to replace damaged teak pillars in a way that does not damage the bridge’s historic features.
If there is enough funding, concrete pillars installed during earlier ill-conceived renovation projects would be replaced with timber, U Myint Kyu said.
Assistant engineer U Aye Lwin from the Mandalay branch of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library said that more than 100 pillars “urgently” needed to be replaced.
He added that the bridge had been repaired at least 11 times since 1946.
However, the K227 million allocated for the current repair work is the largest in recent times.
In 2004, more than K35 million was spent, followed by K17 million in 2005 and K4.8 million in 2008. In 2014, members of the public donated another K13 million for repairs
Source: Myanmar Times