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'Spanish firm built our bridge upside down'

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Bridge over troubled water: A computed generated image of how Chile's first drawbridge should operate. Screen grab: YouTube
17:05 CET+01:00
The grand opening of Chile's first ever drawbridge has been delayed after allegations at least one traffic deck had been installed upside down. Now the country's president is blaming the project's Spanish developer for the mistake.

The $30-million (€22-million) drawbridge project was supposed to open this month, and become an instant landmark connecting Valdivia with Teja island by bridging the Cau Cau River.

But it has ended up a laughing stock in local social media, as Chileans wondered how construction workers managed to mess up something as seemingly clear as up and down.

Twitter users in Chile have parodied the building error with (fake) images like the one in the tweet below:

The fail has also got President Sebastián Piñera a bit defensive. "It can be fixed, ... and it will be fixed by the company that made the mistake," Pinera said dropping the ball in the court of Spanish infrastructure builders Azvi.

Inspectors getting ready for opening day found that either one or two of the traffic decks were installed backwards, authorities said.

"The only responsible party is the builder. We are going to make them answer for this," Public Works Minister Loreto Silva. 

In a statement sent to The Local via email, however, Azvi said that while minor errors in the bridge's construction had been detected, it was not true that the bridge had been built backwards.

"The controversy around the bridge having been built upside down doesn't make any sense as both parts (of the traffic decks) are symmetrical," the company stated.  

Azvi also highlighted a press release from Chile's Public Works Ministry saying there were "no structural problems" with the bridge.

As yet, no new opening date for the bridge has been announced.

Valdivia, 840 kilometers (520 miles) south of sprawling Santiago, is home to about 125,000 people.

A video showing how the Valdivia drawbridge should actually operate. 

Story continues below…

January has not been a good month for Spanish developers in Latin America. Spain's infrastructure giant Sacyr — part of a consortium contracted to expand the Panama Canal to accommodate new super container ships — is currently embroiled in a costs row with the Panama Canal Authority.

The two parties are in negotiations over who will pay for cost overruns. 

Spain's Public Works minister flew to Panama for emergency talks in a spat that threatens the future of the critical project

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