CROWDS of local and foreign visitors continue to flock to the bridge over the Gokhteik Viaduct every day, despite the prohibition against tourists crossing the bridge, according to a spokesperson for the Gokhteik Railway Station.
The Gokhteik Viaduct is the highest bridge in Myanmar and was the largest railway trestle in the world when it was completed. It is situated in Nawnghkio Township in northern Shan State, approximately 100 kilometres northeast of Mandalay.
Generally, the Gokhteik Viaduct receives over 200 people per day. The number occasionally rises to 700, especially on weekends and holidays. “Around 500 visitors passed over the viaduct every day before the prohibition was announced. Some visitors behaved unsafely on the bridge and broke the rules set by the authorities,” a local resident said.
One official said: “To protect the bridge from natural forest fires, we already prepare a 4,000-gallon tank to put out a blaze on bridge, should it occur.”
Myanma Railways has a plan to operate a small car-cum-train between the Gokhteik Railway Station and the bridge at a fair price. The authorities have allowed people to visit the safe part of the viaduct, where they are allowed to take photos. “The wide part of the GokhteikViaduct needs to be maintained,” a visitor said.
Visitors have suggested that the authorities put up a billboard to inform visitors about the background history of the bridge in both English and Myanmar languages.