Sino-NK Friendship Bridge open with new regulations

The Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge has
reopened after receiving maintenance for wear and tear that caused a truck
accident and an ensuing shutdown of the bridge late last month
, Daily NK has

“The transport of cargo was halted because
of the truck accident, which was the first to occur in seven decades since the
bridge was built, but they’ve resumed transport starting today,” a source in
North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Monday. “They completed three days of
work on the bridge, and all cargo trucks are traveling through, but they’ve
limited the weight of the truck and cargo to 15 tons to prevent recurrences.”

This news was corroborated via a second
source in the same province.

Following a request from the customs office
in China’s Dandong, the two sides agreed to abolish the system of allowing
cargo to pass according to respective decisions that had created room for
passage of overloaded trucks. Instead, authorities will cap the weight of the
vehicle and cargo combined at a total of 15 tons. 

There are no exceptions at this time, he said; if a vehicle fails to comply with the limit regulations, no access will be permitted.

“Until now, 20 to 30 tons had commonly been
the minimum loaded, and often cargo would be much heavier,” the source
explained. “Especially more recently, the loads sometimes reached up to 40 to
50 tons due to overloading because of mineral exports that were done in 30-ton

The bridge is acutely susceptible to damage, he added, noting that North Korea has been overloading trucks with coal,
and minerals such as gold, copper, silver, magnetite, molybdenum, and other minerals to earn in foreign currency and secure ‘loyalty
funds’ for the leadership since the 1990s.  

Mineral exports have reportedly seen a dramatic surge this year, explained by state efforts to reap in capital for Party Foundation Day
preparations. However, no attending measures were implemented to control the pervasive practice of overburdening vehicles.

“We (the North) will face a sense of
urgency to push out as many minerals as we can to get our hands on more money
and import goods, but now with the restrictions on cargo volume now, traders will be swamped,” the source predicted, adding that the number of trucks on the road is also likely to jump significantly. 

A flagrant disregard for concern over safety measures is entirely to blame for the accident, he lamented, noting that traders focus all their energies and concerns on raking in ‘loyalty funds’ above all else. While the need for weight regulations was irrefutable, the source surmised that the sudden modification will soon prove to be a double-edged sword. 

Going forward, accidents will, presumably, decrease, but disgruntlement from traders faced with bringing in massive loads of supplies into the country leading up to the October 10
celebration is certain to peak, he concluded.

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