Corruption probe into bridge collapse

Officials from the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) on Tuesday began to investigate Sunday's fatal suspension bridge collapse in Ayutthaya, to see whether corruption had affected recent work on the span.

  • Published: 30/04/2013 at 05:51 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

(Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)

Four officials from the OAG's office arrived at the scene and inspected the collapsed Rattanakosin Bridge over the Pasak River in tambon Tha Luang of Tha Rua district. The bridge collapsed on Sunday evening, killing four people and injuring 45.

The 8.2-million-baht bridge was built in 2011 to replace an old bridge that had been constructed in 1982. It was repaired in February 2012 after it was struck by a boat. The official inquiry will look into whether the tambon Tha Luang municipal office, which oversaw the construction and repair projects, spent the given budget properly, and if there was any corruption involved.

They also examined another suspension bridge nearby which was built last year for 18 million baht. It is currently in poor condition, but remained open for use only by pedestrians until Tuesday, as municipal officials put up signs warning that the bridge is under maintenance.

On Tuesday, however, local authorities showed up with new signboards, blocked off the bridge from both ends and said the bridge was closed until further notice.

That will upset residents who have so far ignored the posted warnings and used the bridge because it saves a seven-kilometre trip downriver to reach the next crossing point. The bridge is necessary for those without vehicles, they said, since public transportation in the area is infrequent.

Chartree Yooprasert, vice president of Ayutthaya provincial administration organisation, said the tambon Tha Luang municipal office hired a private construction firm, De Nice (2009) Co, to build the bridge.

He said the company must be held accountable for the casualties caused by the collapse and must also build a new bridge, as stipulated in a construction insurance contract valid until July 23 of next year.

Mr Chartree said the company had yet to show its intention to take full responsibility for the accident, and urged the government to put pressure on the firm.

Ayutthaya police chief Kon-ek Phetchaiyawet said officers had questioned six local officials and injured residents,  including tambon Tha Luang mayor Chettha Pathumrangsee. They will soon call in representatives of De Nice Co for questioning. 

An investigation is under way into the cause of the bridge’s collapse and to identify who should be held accountable, he added. 

Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan on Tuesday ordered provincial governors nationwide to inspect bridges of a similar type and ensure that they are closed to the public if repairs are needed. 

(Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)

A sign erected by tambon Tha Luang municipal office prior to the collapse details information related to the construction of the deadly Rattanakosin Bridge including a three-year validity period of construction works insurance which is due to end in July next year. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)

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Writer: Sunthon Pongpao
Position: Reporter

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