French audit warns 840 bridges may face risk of collapse

A general view shows the flooded banks of the Seine River after days of rainy weather in Paris, France, January 8, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2018
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French audit warns 840 bridges may face risk of collapse

  • The audit says says a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France need repairs
  • About 7 percent, or about 840 bridges, present a “risk of collapse” in the coming years if spending is kept at current levels

PARIS: An audit commissioned by the French government says about 840 French bridges are suffering from serious damage and at risk of collapse in the coming several years.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government had already promised new infrastructure spending, but is coming under new pressure after Tuesday’s bridge collapse in neighboring Italy that killed 43 people.
The audit, published Sunday by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, says a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France need repairs. About 7 percent, or about 840 bridges, present a “risk of collapse” in the coming years if spending is kept at current levels, the audit says.
The audit doesn’t address thousands of other French bridges maintained by private companies or local authorities, which have seen budget cuts in recent years.
The government released a summary of the audit last month, blaming previous administrations for inconsistent and inadequate road funding, and saying the growth of traffic and increasing episodes of extreme weather have worsened the problem.
The Transport Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment Sunday. Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told broadcaster Franceinfo last week that bridge “maintenance is our priority” and announced plans for a 1 billion-euro (($1.14 billion) plan to “save the nation’s roads,” including bridges and tunnels. She reiterated plans for a new infrastructure law after the summer holidays.
The Genoa bridge collapse has shined a spotlight on road maintenance in Italy. Italian investments in roads sank most dramatically among the top five European economies after the 2008 economic crisis, never fully recovering, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Updated 22 April 2019
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US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said the US would be ending sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, increasing economic pressure on the regime, according to a White House Statement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to discuss the move at the State Department Monday morning. The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, will not be renewed when they expire on May 2.

The statement said that the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had "agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market."

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Monday that he believed global oil markets would be able to handle the US decision to force buyers of Iranian oil to either end imports or face sanctions, despite Monday's surge in oil prices.

"I think that the global oil markets are poised to be able to deal with this," Kevin Hassett said in an interview with CNBC. 

The move comes as the administration toughens its already strict penalties on Iran by trying to choke off all the revenue the country makes from oil sales.

The waivers had been in place since November, when the administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

They were granted in part to give those countries time to eliminate their purchases of Iranian oil but also to ease any impact on global energy markets with the abrupt removal of Iran's production.

Pompeo says now that production increases elsewhere will make up for the loss of Iranian oil on the market.

(With Agencies)