LAHORE: A soon as an overhead bridge collapsed near Harbanspura on the Lahore Ring Road, a PML-N MNA came out in defence of the contractor who built the bridge by stating that the failure was on part of the truck driver who crashed into the bridge, who is no longer alive to defend himself. The chief minister of Punjab should ensure that a transparent investigation is conducted to restore his credibility, which has been eroded by the MNA’s statement. How did he come up with such an assessment? Was he there on the scene as a witness? Is the MNA involved in the construction business directly or indirectly? If bridges constructed on highways are to collapse upon collision with a truck, then such bridges cannot be declared safe and it proves that there was a deficiency in either design or quality of construction.
Accidents, earthquake shocks and floods are part of routine load stresses that bridges, overhead by-pass roads and walkway bridges are designed to withstand. If properly constructed and designed, bridges can survive for over 50 years. The bridges near the Fortress Stadium in Lahore and on the Sharah-e- Faisal near the Karachi airport, provide proof of their longevity. Bridges are not supposed to be fragile ornaments. This investigation must be free from bureaucratic or political interference, especially when an elected representative is found to be overzealous in bailing out a contractor under investigation. It is time that contracting out public development work is made a more transparent process and the company that was involved in this case, even if it is the NLC, should be delisted from the approved list of contractors in the interest of public safety.
Malik Tariq Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2012.
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