Bad to worse: Hoi An’s iconic 400-year-old bridge stinks

By Nguyen Dong   October 23, 2018 | 10:26 am GMT+7

Hoi An’s most famous landmark spans a canal that has become a stinking sewer.

Hoi Ans 400-year-old bridge under threat as stinking wastewater looms large

The bridge, spanning some 18 meters across a small canal that runs into the Thu Bon River, has suffered serious deterioration in recent years even after seven restorations. Many poles and beams supporting the structure have rotted and cracked and some have been replaced with iron ones, officials said.

Now, it is losing more charm to polluted wastewater and the stench the canal emits. 

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Old houses are reflected in the dirty water. Le Quang Trung, a Hoi An official, said the canal has been polluted for over a decade, but no measures have been taken to deal with it comprehensively. The wastewater discharged by households, hotels and restaurants in Minh An, Cam Pho and Tan An wards go directly into the canal, exacerbated the pollution, Trung said.

Hoi Ans 400-year-old bridge under threat as stinking wastewater looms large - 2

Under the bridge, piles of stinking black sludge have undermined its image and deterred many tourists from returning there, officials say.

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Built by Japanese traders in the 17th century, the bridge is an icon of Hoi An in central Vietnam. But many foreign tourists now stop very briefly at the bridge, take some pictures and leave immediately. On hot, sunny days, many visitors prefer to avoid the bridge because of the stench from the canal.

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The nearby Hoai River is also filled with piles of trash, mainly paper lanterns released by local residents and tourists during the lantern releasing festival held on the 14th day of each lunar month.

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Plastic bags with trash get stuck before flowing through the canal under the Pagoda Bridge. In 2015, the Vietnamese government signed an agreement with Japan to build a modern wastewater treatment facility in the area near the bridge. The Japanese government offered non-refundable aid of VND240 billion ($10.2 million) for the project while local government spent VND48 billion on land clearance in the Cam Pho Ward. The facility was to begin operations last year, but missed the deadline and is expected to be completed this November.

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The lantern festival has become a major cultural feature in Hoi An, boosting local tourism. However, local authorities are now planning to restrict the ritual in a bid to minimize river pollution.

 
 
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