Another tofu-dreg project: part of 14-month-old billion-buck bridge in Harbin collapses, killing 3

August 24, 2012Jing GaoOne Comment, , , , , , , ,

From NetEase, Sina Weibo, Sina

At about 5:30 a.m. on August 24, the ramp of a 7-kilometer-long suspension bridge in Harbin collapsed. Four heavy-duty trucks fell from the 130-meter stretch of the bridge. Until press time, four people were killed and five were injured.


Yangmingtan Bridge was a key project of the northeastern city. Its construction started in December 2009 and took 18 months. The total investment is estimated at 1.88 billion yuan, or US$294 million. The bridge was opened for traffic on November 6, 2011, or barely ten months ago. Some Chinese news reports even say that the construction was meant to take three years, but was rushed to meet the deadline set by the Harbin authorities.

Even the spokesperson for China’s State Administration for Work Safety was in disbelief. At a press conference after the collapse, Huang Yi said on behalf of the state watchdog, “The incident took place less than a year after it was put into use. I personally think there must be some problem. But as for what the problem is, we need confirmation from the ad hoc investigation team.”

However, answers from the authorities in Harbin were far from satisfactory. Huang Yusheng, the deputy secretary of Harbin Municipal Government, blamed the collapse on overloading of the trucks, whereas the city’s construction committee even said, “Because the commanding office for the construction of Yangmingtan Bridge dissolved (after the completion of the project), we can’t track down the specific work unit that was responsible for this segment of the bridge.”

The deadly collapse has renewed public outrage over China’s reckless development of its infrastructure and wasteful, unscrutinized spending of taxpayers’ money, which often resulted in extravagant tofu-dreg projects. Netizens’ unanimously indignant reaction on the news, interlaced with snark and sarcasm, was sorted out by Dou Hanzhang, a media commentator widely perceived as a lapdog for Chinese government, in his Weibo post, oddly enough, critical of the Harbin authorities. He commented, “some party cadres, please use your head. How worrying!”

“It was not overloading (that caused the collapse.) Must be the earth’s gravity that was too big. ”

“It’s caused by overloading, for sure. And it’s the kind of overloading that happens only once in a century!”

“I miss Zhaozhou bridge. There were no contractor, no kickback and no tofu-dreg project! The Yangtze River Bridge was a good job as well. People decades ago did have a better heart!”

“If a bridge cannot even bear the weight of a truck, then the imperialistic countries (Western democracies) will really laugh, because in the event of a war, they won’t even need to bomb the bridge. Our tank going up the bridge will doom both the tank and the bridge.”

“The causes of the collapse of the bridge: 1, truck overloading; 2, a 0.1-magnitude earthquake struck; 3, someone nearby just sneezed; 4, Don’t forget, it’s 2012.”

“Who told you to drive a truck up there? Nothing would have happened if it were a bicycle!”

“I suggest that the three victims killed go find that deputy secretary and talk about overloading at midnight.”

“Huang Yusheng, the deputy secretary of Harbin Municipal Government, you are going to become really famous!”

“Right, you are as awesome as that spokesperson for the Railways Ministry. Whether you believe it or not, I certainly do!

“The owners of these trucks will have to suffer. Corrupt officials will laugh once again. The bridge will be repaired again, and the contractors will also be laughing.”

“They’ve been hoping for the bridge to collapse for a long time. Or else how can the GDP grow? Where can they find an occasion to drink wine? And to spend money?”

“These are the kind of words that come from our officials’ mouths. When an accident takes place, they never engage in introspection. Instead, they try their best to find a scapegoat. With something of this magnitude, no official has stepped out and taken responsibility. No one has analyzed the cause from aspects like design, engineering and supervision. The first thing they’ve come up is overloading. How much more can it possibly load? The truck must have carried an aircraft carrier!”

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1 comment to “Another tofu-dreg project: part of 14-month-old billion-buck bridge in Harbin collapses, killing 3”

  1. scooter | August 30, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Many website in North America with Engineers and experienced construction workers have viewed the photos of this bridge (elevated roadway) falling and made observations of cause to the failure.

    Comments range for lack of rebar in the roadway pier cap to, oddly, the overloaded two trucks of heavy gravel traveling together may have unbalanced roadway.

    Other, less learned peoples, have mocked the tragedy as yet another example of the demonstrably consistent poor quality of Chinese materials and workmanship.

    Some authorities should be dismissed – unlikely, and corrupt contractors go to prison – also unlikely as they would soon be joined by corrupt politicians.

    The workers families of the now dead will suffer again and again as they are pushed aside in an effort to ‘whitewash’ this disaster…

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