Driver fined 2.7m yuan over bridge collapse

A truck driver has been sentenced to three years in jail and fined the equivalent of 100 years wages after a bridge he was driving across collapsed in 2011

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 4:18pm

A truck driver was fined 2.7 million yuan (HK$3.2million) – 100 years’ average income for city dwellers in China – and jailed for three years after his overloaded vehicle caused a bridge to collapse, reports in Beijing said on Thursday.

Zhang Wenjun’s sand-laden lorry weighed 160 tonnes when he tried to cross a concrete bridge in Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing and the structure gave way, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Intermediate People’s Court in the capital imposed on Zhang a penalty equivalent to US$440,000, Xinhua said, reducing his original fine of 15.6 million yuan levied by a lower court.

According to official statistics, the average income for Chinese urban residents stood at 26,959 yuan last year.

Zhang’s wife said the family depends solely on him and that he has a son, daughter and mother to support, adding that they cannot afford to pay the fine, the Beijing Times newspaper said.

The case has triggered wide controversy on the China’s internet, with many suspicious that poor quality construction and maintenance could have been responsible for the accident in July 2011.

Problems with infrastructure often make headlines in newspapers on the mainland, with corruption regularly alleged to be a factor.

One poster on Sina Weibo said the sentence “will be mocked by people for 10,000 thousand years”.

Another added: “I think the bridge is probably made of bean curd.”