More than 40 percent of all suspension bridges across the country are in need of urgent repairs, according to the Ministry of Transport.

Khuat Minh Tuan, head of the ministry's Infrastructure Department said the figure came from an initial evaluation by local transport authorities across 56 cities and provinces.

Authorities are due to conduct technical tests on the bridges in an effort to clarify the exact number in need of repairs.

Figures from the ministry indicate there are about 1,950 suspension bridges in Vietnam. About 810 operational bridges - roughly 40 percent - have shown signs of erosion and rust. Up to 94 percent of them are located on roads connecting villages and communes.

Currently, seven cities and provinces are yet to report on the number of bridges in need of upgrades.

Tuan said management and maintenance efforts of suspension bridges in suburban areas, particularly in remote areas, remained weak due to a shortage of finance and professional knowledge.

He said the Vietnam Road Administration had proposed to build 1,190 suspension bridges in 28 cities and provinces. The ministry has also approved a plan to build 186 bridges with a capital investment fund of 1.7 trillion VND (79.9 million USD).

The ministry would allow transport authorities to use part of the State budget allocated to each locality to build bridges in areas facing a high risk of accidents or with heavy traffic.

To prevent fatal accidents, the ministry has required local authorities to repair old bridges and close degrading bridges without specifications on weight capacity, height and length restrictions. Last month, the deadly collapse of the Chu Va 6 suspension bridge in Son Binh commune of Tam Duong district, northwestern Lai Chau province, killed eight and injured 38 others.-VNA