Dangerous stunt part of daily life in Central Highlands commune

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For residents of Dak Nong Commune, young and old, stunts that marines and circus acrobats perform is the stuff of daily life.

Tran Thi Anh Tuyet, a second grader, swings on a cable in Kon Tum Province to school. The cable has been the only means of transport across the Ko Po River for the riverside residents.

For several years, they have been slinging themselves down a 150 meters long cable over dangerous waters to get to school, workplace and the market. 

The cable is situated at a height of 20 meters over the Po Ko River and it takes 10 seconds to slide across with a pulley.

 

Since settling at the place in 2007, people from Dak Nong Commune in Kon Tum Province's Ngoc Hoi District have been swinging down the cable to get to the other side of Dak Ang Commune to work on fields. And people from Dak Ang travel back to Dak Nong to reach the Ho Chi Minh Road nearby and get to schools and markets.

 

"It's too dangerous to cross the river on boat as the water is rough and can overturn the boat. And to swim across is impossible, especially during the flooding season. So we thought of this," said local resident Tran Van Chin.

 

Tran Thi Huong, a seventh grader, said, "The first day of travelling like this I was very scared! But then I got used to it.

 

"Otherwise, there's no way to go to school."

 

Residents have set up cables at three places along the river. But the only means of transport they have is not always safe.

 

At least five accidents have occurred causing severe injuries when the cable broke or people slipped, Chin recalled.

 

One of them happened to A Phin, a local police officer. He was sliding on the cable holding his child when the pulley broke. The pulley knocked him unconscious and the child was swept away by the river.

 

Chin and his children managed to save them and get them to the hospital.

 

Xieng Thanh Ty, chairman of Dak Nong Commune, said the area used to have a chain bridge but it was swept away by floods and officials were planning to rebuild it.

 

Chau Ngoc Lan, official of Ngoc Hoi District, said travelling on cable is "too dangerous and threatening people's lives."

 

But Lan said it takes time to build chain bridges and "the district's capabilities are limited."

 

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