Sunday, January 18, 2009

Impassable Bridges / Alta Verapaz

The Boca Nueva and Cahaboncito bridges in the Polochic area have been in poor shape for years and local citizens fear a disaster. The Boca Nueva bridge was built 125 years ago in the days of heavy ox-drawn wagons. Today 800 vehicles cross the bridge every day including heavy truck traffic. Truck drivers a fearful because the bridge is unstable and shaky. The wooden driving surface is worn out. If the Boca Nueva bridge collapses then Panzós would be isolated from from Cobán, similar to what happened three years ago when Panzós was isolated from El Estor due to a bridge collapse.

Local authorities and citizens have been raising the alarm for years with Covial, the division of the Ministry of Communications that is responsible for road and bridge maintenance. But despite the fact that these bridges are on national routes, not community roads, and are vital to transport in the region, nothing has been done. Local citizens have attempted some repairs by welding the supports and replacing the wooden surface as best they can but this is not nearly enough. The bridges need to be replaced. Truck drivers, local authorities and citizens are hoping that repair or replacement takes place this coming dry season and before a disastrous bridge collapse occurs.

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