Shershah Bridge

Reconstruction of Shershah bridge’s collapsed portion

Commuters to suffer one year of traffic jams

 

By Jamil Khan | KARACHI shershah-4

 

COMMUTERS have to stress through another year or more of daily traffic jams when passing the Paracha Chowk, where construction of the collapsed portion of the Northern Bypass Shershah Bridge has finally started, Daily Times learnt on Monday.

The Paracha Chowk portion of the Shershah Bridge collapsed on September 1, 2007, just weeks after former president Pervez Musharraf inaugurated the bridge, killing six people and trapping dozens others under tons of rubble.

During the past 14 months, a lot of fuss was created on the bridge collapse issue, demands were made by different quarters to catch the contractors and consultants who had not taken proper measures to construct a durable bridge that aimed to provide hassle-free movement to heavy traffic. The inquiry committee formed by the Federal Communication Ministry filed its report on the issue but so far no action against the responsible firms or persons has been taken, raising eyebrows over the federal government’s attitude.

The National Highway Authority (NHA) conceived the Northern Bypass project, including the Shershah Bridge, and the project’s contract was awarded to the National Logistic Cell (NLC), while Engineering Consultants International Pvt Limited (ECIL) was named the consultant firm.

Rather than directing the NLC to construct the damaged portion of the Shershah Bridge, since they initially completed the bridge at an estimated cost of Rs 320 million, the NHA has given the reconstruction assignment to a private firm called Usmani Associates. The firm has finally deployed ground workers at the site to set up and initiate a working environment and the reconstruction will cost around Rs 270 million, another burden on the national exchequer.

“We have moved a few labourers and one excavator to dig up the site where the task of pile-load testing will be conducted to measure the strength of the site before we start proper construction,” an engineer preferring to remain anonymous told Daily Times. “The new contractor will only reconstruct the curved portion of the bridge that collapsed,” he said, adding that there have been some changes in the bridge’s design. “The portion was previously designed with an almost 90 degree curve without any pillar support and the portion collapsed within three weeks of inauguration. Now, the new portion will be constructed on a new design with support pillars to avoid any such incident in the future.”

The engineer revealed that the NHA has bought 2,300-square-feet of land from Paracha Textile Mills for Rs 63.2 million, however, the land is yet to be vacated and handed over to the contractor. Some shopkeepers at Paracha Chowk fell victim to the haphazard traffic and pollution at the site and they complain that the negligent authorities are not giving them any relief. “For more than a year, we and those who visit our stores, have been inhaling heavy clouds of dust and have been victims of excessive noise pollution,” Muzammil Khan, a general store owner said.

He also stated that the shopkeepers dreamed that after the completion of the bridge, there would be less traffic at the busy Paracha Chowk intersection but this dream did not last more than a couple of weeks. Narrating the horrible scene of the bridge collapsed, another shopkeeper owning an oil-changing shop, said that the rescue operation that continued for almost a week damaged their businesses and after the incident, no official came to provide a suitable atmosphere to the area people. The traffic gridlock at Paracha Chowk has become a routine feature, especially for the traffic heading towards the SITE Industrial Area and Balochistan through the RCD Highway, and the residents of the locality demand that the city government remove the rubble and save them from further damages.

– Published in Daily Times | Nov 4, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on November 11, 2008.

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