Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bailey Bridges - Piasau Bridge Miri

I have always marvelled at how the Piasau Bridge make life so convenient for my friends living in Piasau Camp as well as those who needed to travel faster to Lutong. When the Nightingale was still ferrying many of us to and from the hospital we could take a longer route just to buy nice things from Ng Siang Hap.

The Piasau bridge not only built relationships but it always provided many children wonderful memories of life on the peninsular. How many of them remember a party or two at the Piasau Boat Club. And how many of them remember going to the air strip just to fly kites or watch the fishermen come in. Crossing the bridge and having all the wooden plank noise under the tires was memorable.

But unknown to many of them the bridge has many stories built into each nut and bolt.

Who built it?

A contractor ,China-born Lee Tung ,who passed away on 25th November 2004,built it just about 50 years ago.

According to his daughter, he himself was skeptical about building the bridge!! The bridge was to be built across the Miri River at Piasau so as to provide an alternate road access to Piasau Camp, Golf club and the then Miri General Hospital. The design was a combination of two long beams spanning across and partially supported by steel wires from two towers at each end. These cables of high tension wires could support an immense weight. To allow for expansion and contraction a gap remained between the two arms that would reach out from their abutment. The gap could then be bridged by a single beam.

All the main structures were to be built using metal parts, fitted and joined together with bolts and nuts. The walking surface was laid with wooden planks placed horizontally across. The central of the bridge was to be used for motor vehicles and on both sides for pedestrian walkways. The bridge allowed for only one single lane of traffic to cross at any one time. To regulate the flow of traffic, a set of
traffic lights was installed at both end of the bridge.

He had only to supply the workers to build it. Yes he did just that. Even when the engineer in charge went away for three weeks he was able to place the last beam in place.

My thanks and tribute to a man who "built" for his fellowmen.

Source : Lee Shoon Yin - Miri 2008
Photos : Sarawakiana

10 memories:

Daniel Yiek said...

In the old days, adults tell kids that bridges use kids' heads for construction to prevent it from collapsing.

It's a bogeyman tactic to prevent kids from going near rivers

sarawakiana said...

It is not really bogeyman tactic - from the time of the construction of the Great Wall of China mankind had the notion of using heads to stabilization construction. Even the natives have the notion of penyanmun to frighten kids away from construction site.

Until today we still wonder if penyanmun is for real.

Yes we even heard that a head was used for the construction of a certain bridge in Miri!! We leave that alone and wave it aside as just rumours.

We Foochows have lots of tactics to keep kids away from the rivers.
Thanks for visiting.

What about joining me in the photographic search for more Bailey Bridges in Sarawak?

Daniel Yiek said...

Next time you travel KCH-Sarikei. Got many bridges but normally I dont get oppty to stop lah.

sarawakiana said...

Yes - I shall start my collection of photos as soon as possible.

Just a Little Kindness said...

Bailey bridges have always helped people over floods and landslides all over the world.
India has lots of examples. I have not been to Pakistan but I think that country also has many.
Cement or concrete bridges tend to have shorter life span if the cement component is not properly mixed with sand and water and of course the steel component. Concrete is concrete. But there is always better concrete!! Lives depend on the integrity of the engineers and contractors.
Take a look at how China built the railways and bridges to Tibet!! How long will it last? That depends on the climatic and natural forces especially.

justin said...

This is a nice article.

My children like going over the bridge. Sometimes I get down and just walk with them. Somehow seeing the water below them is kind of exciting for them. But it is frightening when there are too many big cars.

So we deide only to walk there when there are fewer cars.

The bridge makes us remember our home's bridge and river. So this is important to me and my family.

sarawakiana said...

It is nice to hear from you!
Nice to know that you take your kids for a walk there. A long long time ago I walked over the bridge once. It was frightening. I though with all the huge cars going in the same direction the bridge would snap! And they did not slow down when the drivers saw some of us walking and taking photos. May be my imagination - they drove even faster!
I never felt so frighted when the bridge started to sway more!

Very much later I heard of my friend's motorbike accident.

In fact this bridge does have a good safety record!

sarawakiana said...

Yes I have paid some attention to some of the Asian bridges. They are fantastic. Now in Malaysia we have a lot of controversies over the Second Penang Bridge the causeway etc...
There seem to be too many legal and political considerations to be studied and weighed.
Bailey bridges - just push on and pull the rails over...and save as many lives as possible or provide as much convenience as possible. Bailey bridge proponents do not have to consider personal gains. That's the beauty of this kind of bridge.
And bottom line - what's a bridge for?

tunbegia said...

thanx for d good info about the piasau wooden bridge, although I used it everyday for the last 3 weeks only, it should be in my memorabilia thing to remember about living in Miri.


Carysann said...

Great to see the bridge is still there. My dad worked for Shell in the 60's and we lived in Piasau. Sometimes, especially at night, if the traffic light was red and there was no one on the other side, dad would shoot across ... probably lose his driving licence now! I remember walking along the sand road to the golf club and a huge cobra slithering across the road a few metres in front of us. Happy memories


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