Liberia: Chinese Newly Constructed Bridge Is ‘Deathtrap’, Motorists In Fear

The Chinese Company, CICO newly constructed bridge on the Monrovia/Ganta highway is said to be developing serious cracks thus posing threat to thousands of motorists and pedestrians who ply the route on a daily basis.

According to report section of the concrete that the steel beams are supporting has developed new cracks that could deteriorate if prompt attention is not paid to the current condition.

The cracks — mostly confined to the area that developed the deep cracks that were constructed a few months ago — have exposed some of the iron rods in the concrete. A visit to the facility on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by FrontPage Africa revealed that although some attempts had been made to seal some of the cracks, further cracks kept occurring causing some of the concrete to peel off into the water beneath.

Sources close to the Chinese construction firm CICO, said the company that renovated the bridge said the cracks were first detected in early May, this year. According to the sources, the continued use of the bridge by heavy trucks with loads exceeding the stipulated 30 tones had adversely compromised the safety and stability of the 26-year-old bridge.

The sources said the danger being posed by the overloaded trucks had persisted due to the reported extortion of money from drivers by some Policemen. To escape the attention of those who are concerned about the safety of the 805-feet bridge, most drivers of the overloaded heavy trucks often park their trucks during the day and cross it either late in the evening or at dawn.

"We do not blame these recalcitrant drivers who flout the safety measures on the bridge, since those who are responsible to check their illegal act have turned a blind eye to the safety of the bridge," the sources added. Fear of that possibility has led to a situation where many more commuters have resorted to many residents bypassing. Some residents of Weala informed reporters  that the problem was first detected about two months ago by some residents of the Weala town who made several reports to the engineering department of CICO.

The seriousness of the situation became clear on Wednesday when some engineers of the authority inspected the bridge to access the extent of damage and find out what could be done immediately to save the situation. After the inspection, the engineers told reporters that it was too early to comment and that they would do so after they had prepared a full report on the cause and extent of the damage.
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A CICO staff who spoke to some local journalists on condition of abnormity said as part of measures to prevent the problem from deteriorating, the company would use an alternative route soon the bridge from for repair works expected to be completed before the July 26 independence celebration.

During the works, he said, CICO would tackle the major cracks on the steel beam, while minor problems would also be given due attention. To reduce the pressure exerted on the bridge by heavy duty vehicles, the CICO staff said another toll booth would be placed at an end of the bridge, while a mobile axle weighing equipment would be installed to check the weight of heavy vehicles that used it.

Our source said although the specific cause of the cracks on the steel beams had not been established, they could be the result of overloading, frequent use of the facility, vibration and fatigue. On maintenance of the facility, he said the pending repair works would be the first to be carried out since the company began constructing roads in Liberia.

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