Vietnam needs more than 3.95 trillion VND (189 million USD) for the repair and upgrade of 402 old bridges throughout the country to ensure traffic safety, according to the Directorate for Roads.

Eight bridges are in such a rundown state that they need urgent upgrades worth an estimated 48 billion VND (2.3 million USD).

A recent Directorate for Roads' survey found there were 738 weak bridges across the country, most of these were built more than 50 years ago and now threatened traffic safety.

However, capital for repairing bridges is limited. According to the Transport Inspectorate at the Ministry of Transport, one third of weak bridges identified in the survey have not been able to find any investment for upgrades.

Most of the bridges in a dangerous state of disrepair are on National Highway No 1A, a major transport route that sees a huge traffic load, raising the risk of traffic accidents.

The Ministry of Transport and Directorate for Roads say they will prioritise repairs and upgrades of weak bridges during the coming five years.

However, the ministry admitted a lack of capital is still a huge problem.

The country's central region alone, from Da Nang City to Khanh Hoa province, has more than 100 weak bridges, according to Department of Road Management No 5.

More than half of these old bridges are along National Highway No 1A, national highways No 19, 26, 14 and the Ho Chi Minh Highway each has 11 weak bridges.

Several years ago, the department proposed to hire local authorities to build new bridges to replace those that were old and degraded.

However, only some of the weak bridges have received investment for upgrades, including Nam O, Ba Ren, Huong An and Chay bridges on National Highway No 1A in Quang Ngai province.

The remaining weak bridges, numbering at nearly 100, located in the country's central region are in a dangerous state and could collapse, according to Vo Dinh Dung, director of Department of Road Management No 5.

Dung said bridge maintenance is only a temporary solution, which cannot prevent continuing degradation due to the bridges' long service life.

"Unpredictable accidents may happen anytime, which threatens the safety of people and vehicles on the road," he said.

Dung called on the Government to boost implementation of projects to build new bridges to replace those that are too old.

The Directorate for Roads of Vietnam manages more than 4,200 bridges along 93 national highway routes totalling 16,758 kilometres in length./.