KARACHI: Bridges built almost a century ago, such as Karachi’s Drigh Road Bridge, or the one connecting Lahore city to the cantonment survive because of proper design, quality of construction, and because they were awarded to contractors on merit. However, these, unfortunately, are rare instances.
By and large, in Pakistan, contracts are awarded solely on recommendations, kickbacks and connections without regard to public interest. When contractors become more powerful than those awarding contracts, bridges will fall, public buildings will collapse and wires in hospital nurseries will short circuit, killing innocents.
It is shocking to know that bridges that have collapsed were given to the powerful National Logistics Cell, which should explain why no punitive action has been taken against the primary contractor, who had sublet the contract to other companies. It is the primary contractor that has to be held responsible for any deficiencies in completion of the project. And the overall responsibility lies with the government to ensure that the contractor complies with all laws and regulations.
So entrenched and powerful is this construction mafia that a PML-N MNA was trying to put the blame for collapse of an overhead bridge on the collision of a truck with the bridge. If bridges or roads are designed to collapse by the mere impact of a truck, then God Almighty have mercy upon us.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.
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