“Ancient piles and floors of the U Bein Bridge are kept in the Bagaya monastery after the replacing of the piles and floors with new ones as part of the renovation of TaungThaman Inn – U Bein Bridge,” said U Nyo Myint Tun, director of the Ministry of Culture’s Department of Archaeology and National Museum Mandalay branch.
“The final repair budget will not be known until the work has been completed. The pillars and flooring are being replaced with new teak. Some of the old pillars have decayed too much and can no longer bear heavy loads,” he added.
The director called for action to be taken against bridge users guilty of “ill-discipline”. Cycling, smoking, littering and food sales are banned on the bridge. However, people are violating these rules and so put the bridge at risk, he said. Archaeology department officials have complained that too many people are misusing the bridge by cycling across it, dropping cigarette butts and littering up the place with betel quid wrappings.
The works on the bridge, carried out by the Myanmar Teak Wood company, which is paying for the renovation and providing the teak, will be followed by the construction of a temporary access bridge. According to Myanmar Teak Wood, it has been constructing the bridge with the assistance of skilled carpenters from Inlay and in consultation with engineers and historical experts.
“During Thingyan, fires broke out twice because of discarded cigarettes. The hollow pillars should be sealed. People also buy betel and cigarettes from vendors on the bridge and then throw away the wrappings, or drop rubbish into the pillars.” said U Soe Win, chair of the Taungthaman Lake boating association.
Millions have been spent on the maintenance of the bridge since the 1940s with more than K22 million spent since just 2005. Many of the original teak pillars have been replaced with concrete and steel.
The renovation requires the substitution of about 100 decayed pillars, out of a total of 1086 pillars.
Aung Thant Khaing with Myanamr Teak Wood