Overloaded trucks pose threats
Updated: 2011-07-29 07:48
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
BEIJING - Overloading is a serious problem in China and preventing overloaded trucks from hitting the roads is an urgent task, a spokesman with the Ministry of Transport said on Thursday.
From July 11 to 19, four bridges across the country collapsed, and three of the accidents were partly caused by overloaded vehicles.
"Bridge collapses have several causes, including outdated design and poor construction but overloading of vehicles is a problem that must be addressed," He Jianzhong, the ministry spokesman, said at a news conference.
He gave an example to show how serious overloading is.
Between Jan 1 and July 15 this year, 7,327 vehicles that weighed more than 50 tons crossed a bridge over the Qiantang River in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, which partly collapsed in the early hours of July 15.
Among them, 1,185 vehicles weighed at least 110 tons, and 213 of those weighed more than 150 tons.
The last vehicle on the bridge was a 129-ton truck carrying steel plates. Before it, five other heavy trucks weighing from 72 tons to 123 tons had crossed the bridge in just 25 minutes. The bridge was designed for vehicles weighing only 30 tons and trailers weighing 55 tons.
For a long time, overloaded vehicles had been using the bridge, seriously affecting its safety, he said.
"That (last) truck was just the straw that broke the camel's back," he said. "Even if the bridge had no quality problems, the overloaded vehicles alone would have brought it down."
An overloaded truck, weighing 169 tons, also caused a rigid-frame 230-meter bridge in Beijing's Huairou district to crumble on July 19. The bridge, built in 1987, was designed to hold vehicles weighing a maximum of 55 tons.
Previously, a bridge in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, collapsed on July 11. Two trucks fell off it but no one was injured. On July 14, a 301-meter steel-arch bridge in Wuyishan, Fujian province, collapsed, causing one death and 22 injures. Both bridges had been built about 10 years ago.
The People's Daily cited official statistics saying that overloaded vehicles were involved in 50 percent of road accidents that caused mass deaths.
The string of accidents prompted Minister of Transport Li Shenglin on Wednesday to order local transport authorities to inspect bridges for potential safety hazards.
A spokesman said the ministry is also working to change the mindsets of local transport officials who are focused on building more bridges.
Local governments pour huge amounts of money into construction every year, but usually do not understand the importance of bridge management and maintenance.
"As the next step, we should promote among local officials the importance of bridge management," he said.
The ministry also spends a lot of money on repairing endangered bridges. He said the central government plans to pour 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million) each year into fixing endangered bridges during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period. Funds spent on fortifying bridges will total 19 billion yuan in that period.
China has about 660,000 bridges, the most of any country in the world. But each year, more than a dozen of them collapse.
Many experts believe that overloaded vehicles are not the only reason for bridge collapses. Construction contractors using substandard materials to cut costs, and local governments rushing projects and neglecting design and construction defects are also factors.
(China Daily 07/29/2011 page5)