New bridge a boon for beach tourism

 

Business operators at Chaungtha are hoping the reopening of a bridge on the road to Pathein will restore tourism to the beach.

U Toe Bridge, near U Toe village, about 5 kilometres east of Chaungtha in Ayeyarwady Region, has been temporarily closed for upgrades since January. The project will see the wooden single-lane bridge replaced by a two-lane concrete and iron structure, which should be open to vehicles of up to 30 tonnes.

Ministry of Construction staff officer U Aye Myint said the new bridge, which is on the main route from Yangon to Chaungtha, should be ready later this month.

“We will test the bridge’s resistance in the second week of March,” he said. “Then we’ll try to open it as soon as possible.”

The upgrade cost K2 billion and the new bridge should be in service for at least 50 years, U Aye Myint said.

Those using the wooden bridge paid a toll. U Aye Myint said he was unsure whether the toll would remain in place, and if so whether it would be raised. “That’s a decision for higher authorities,” he said.

Since the bridge was closed, buses have either had to take a detour through Shwe Thaung Yan, or make the crossing by boat at U Toe.

As a result, fewer visitors have been coming to Chaungtha, according to locals. Some bus lines even stopped offering Chaungtha services, instead using the buses for extra trips to nearby Ngwe Saung.

“Buses had to link up with motorboats to transport passengers across the creek after the bridge was closed,” said U Htaw Gyi, who runs a motorbike taxi business. “Fewer people have been coming than in previous years, especially during weekdays.”

He was confident business would pick up again after the new bridge opens.

“When all the bus lines are back and running … the place will be alive and crowded again,” he said.

U Lin Lin, a 10-household chief in U Toe village, said his community was making money from ferrying passengers across.

“We are running the motorboats to cross [the river]. This makes it more convenient for visitors and means our village can get some more funds,” he said.

 

Source: Myanmar Times

 

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