A world-renowned pedestrian bridge which is one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist attractions has been shut for 20 months as a result of urgently needed maintenance work.
The Langkawi Sky Bridge, a world-renowned pedestrian walkway in the northwestern part of Peninsular Malaysia which has been acclaimed as an "engineering marvel" by tourist writers, has been shut for 20 months now as a result of a lack of funds for the necessary work.
The curved cable-stayed pedestrian bridge extends for 125 metres, and hangs a hair-raising 700 metres above sea-level from the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang on the popular tourist isle of Pulau Langkawi. Its winding structure and lofty height have earned it the appellation of "Crazy Curves" from TripAdvisor, which also placed it first on a list of the world's top five scariest bridges.
The Sky Bridge quickly became one of Malaysia's landmark tourist destinations following its completion in 2005, attracting an average of 400,000 visitors a year as well. It featured prominently in the 2006 Bollywood hit Don: The Chase Begins Again, starring Indian matinee idol Shah Rukh Khan.
The bridge shut in July 2012, just seven years following its completion, however, and has remained closed ever since as a result of interminable delays in funding from the government for maintenance work.
Panorama Langkawi Sdn Bhd (PLSB), the company responsible for operation of the Sky Bridge, said it had experienced difficulty obtaining a funding allocation from the Malaysian federal government, with a year usually needed for completion of the approval process.
While the allocation has been approved and work on the bridge is slated to resume in April, PLSB's chief operating officer Mohd Ali Makkit said ensuring the safety of pedestrians was the company's top priority and that if funds were not forthcoming, the bridge would just have to wait on the sidelines in 2014 - a key year for the country's tourist industry which is being officially billed as "Visit Malaysia Year."
Scheduled work on the bridge will require at least 10 million Ringgit (approx. US$3.04 million) for rectification of the main bridge structure, as well as a further 8 million Ringgit (approx. US$2.4 million) for the construction of an inclinator to convey visitors up to the bridge itself.
Another factor hampering efforts to restore the Sky Bridge to a proper bill of health has been difficulty enlisting the help of the original contractors, architects and designers from Switzerland to conduct surveying work.
PLSB hopes to thoroughly abide by the standard operating procedures for maintenance work laid out by the bridge's designers in order to prevent the occurrence of any mishaps or contingencies.