China: Are Overloaded Vehicles to Blame for Harbin Bridge Collapse?

On August 24, 2012, a highway bridge in Harbin city in China's Heilongjiang province suddenly collapsed, leaving three dead and five injured. Yesterday the investigation report came out which stated that the collapse was caused by overloaded vehicles.

It seems that no one believes in the so-called expert report, but first of all, let's take a look at the video taken by citizen eyewitnesses soon after the bridge collapsed:

Local media outlets pointed out that in the past ten years there have been more than 85 news reports [zh] about collapsed bridges. Some netizens have pointed out that this fact is related to corruption in the construction tendering process.

Truth digger's micro-blog post [zh] about construction tenders has been re-posted more than 21,600 times in 3 weeks:


[It would be a miracle if the bridge did not collapse] Let's say the central government invests RMB 1.8 billion [approximately USD 1.2 billion] for bridge construction. The company that wins the tender does not know how to build the bridge and contracts it out with a RMB 1.5 billion bid to a sub-contractor; the sub-contractor does not know how to build the bridge and contracts it out again with a RMB 1 billion bid. Finally the sub-sub-contractor knows how to build the bridge but RMB 1 billion is not enough. So it spends RMB 0.1 billion to bribe the quality control officials, another 0.1 billion to bribe the quality verification department. Eventually it spends 0.7 billion on building the bridge while making 0.1 billion profit. If the bridge remains sound and safe, this would be a architectural miracle in human history.

Without addressing the real problem, even the official media outlet People Daily questioned [zh] the so-called expert report in its micro-blog comment:


[Micro comment: The investigation should answer to people's common sense] If it is overloading, how come the tyres and the bodies of the vehicles remained intact while the bridge collapsed. How come Macro-Polo bridge could support up to 430 tons of weight while the Harbin bridge could not support 420 tons of weight? People's common sense may not be scientific. But if the investigative report is to prevent future disasters from happening, it has to address people's questions rather than putting the investigation in abstract terms like “all indications showed that the construction is up to standard requirement of the design”.

More than 1,400 micro-bloggers joined the discussion on the People's Daily's comment thread:

木木山风oliver:就算我缺乏常识都能看出来问题, 专家是被”招安”了的, 连说句真话都不敢?

oliver: Even though I am not very knowledgable, I can still see the problem. The experts have surrendered and dare not to speak the truth.


514341: A few vehicles had resulted in the overloading. What if in the case of traffic jam when there are hundreds of vehicles on the bridge at the same time… what would have happened?


rocky: This is a joke! If it is really the fact that “all indications showed that the construction is up to standard requirement of the design”, now that the bridge collapsed, the responsibility should lie with the design unit. The investigation team has so many experts in it, but they lack the courage to speak the truth.


1985sunshine: What happen to our country? Blame the vehicles for the collapsed bridge? So if the vehicles broke down, should we blame the road? The government department are good for nothing? How can they accept this kind of conclusion? They see people as idiots?


Tree cave: Blaming the dead ones for the incidents, the victims have become the trouble bearers. There is nothing wrong with the perfect bridge, what can be more shameless than such conclusion?


shedding: Now we can see anti-corruption is more important than the protect Diaoyu Island act [refering to tension between China and Japan over the disputed Diaoyu Islands]. Or else people won't have any rights in our homeland.


Four seas 6263: Let's send 100 vehicles to Japan and collapse their transportation systems.

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