CAIRO: The renovation of 700 main bridges determined to be in need of “immediate and rapid” reparations will be finalized by June 2016, Spokesperson for General Authority for Roads and Bridges Abdel Aziz Abdu told The Cairo Post Monday.
Some 400 bridges, which were the worst affected, have been renovated during the financial year 2014/2015, “and works at the remaining 300 have started,” he added.
The problems in the bridges varied between serious and moderate, Abdu said, referring to improper use by over-loaded trucks as the main reason.
“We have discovered that about 40 percent of the total 1,704 bridges, which fall under the authority’s supervision, were built almost 50 years ago,” stated Abdu.
He went on explaining that the bridges’ load capacity was between 30-70 tons. “After the January 25 Revolution and subsequent loose security, violations spotted by vans exceeded 120 tons,” Abdu said.
“One of the trucks spotted carrying electric transformations weighed 360 tons,” Abdu said, adding that “these trucks should inform the authority so we can tell them which way to take.”
Such violations are causing cracks and potholes in the bridges, he added.
“Although we should not accept such violations, the authority has raised the design capacity of the renovated and newly built bridges to bear overloaded vans,” said Abdu.
Lack of periodic maintenance to cities’ bridges
In May 2015, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram quoted the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) as stating that there are “1,530 bridges across governorates, at least half of them are in severe degradation and vulnerable to collapse at any time due to lack of regular maintenance and overloading.”
Bridges in the capital, cities and districts are not managed by the authority, but belong to governorates and local directorates.
In comments to The Cairo Post in 2014 over reported bridge collapses, Abdu noted “lack of periodic maintenance in all cities’ bridges” as one of the main problems.
“I get scared whenever I pass under a bridge in Egypt,” the then-head of the authority, Saad el-Geoushy, said in statements to Al-Hayah Al-Youm TV Program last year.
In Jan. 2015, Cairo governorate opened renovation on the Sheikh Mansour Bridge after a huge part of it collapsed after a fire last year.
The General Authority for Roads and Bridges has maintained adoption of international standards in building all main bridges, Abdu said. “That’s why the authority is trying to merge other cities’ bridges under its supervision, in order to be responsible for applying the same standards to all bridges across Egypt,” he added.
“In the past, we had problems in applying safety checks on Nile bridges due to a lack of hydraulic tools, which are now available at the authority,” Abdu said.
Egypt has the Middle East’s highest road fatality rate, according to 2011 CAPMAS report; however, the technical failure constituted only 19.3 percent of the road accidents in 2014.