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Bridges inspected for safety
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A total of 380,000 bridges across the country have been inspected in the past few months for safety, Minister of Communications Li Shenglin said over the weekend.

Li said a tenth of the bridges inspected were found to require regular checks and repair work, but most of the problems were not life-threatening.

The inspections came after a bridge under construction in Hunan Province collapsed and killed 64 people in August last year.

"That was a big lesson for us," Li said.

The ministry will implement a three-year campaign starting this year aimed at ensuring the safety of all bridges.

A system requiring all work on bridges to be evaluated on engineering and construction risks before building starts will also be introduced, Li said.

"The collapsed stone arch bridge in Hunan was of low cost but demanded better engineering techniques. A steel-reinforced concrete structure might have been safer in that case," he said.

Li said another lesson from the Hunan bridge collapse is that local government officials must not demand the date of completion of projects in time for celebrations, as such demands could end up compromising the quality of construction.

China has about 530,000 bridges. Of them, 150,000 bridges were not included in the inspection as they were built and opened recently.

(China Daily January 7, 2008)


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