KARACHI: Three weeks on, one of the largest bridges of Pakistan, the Malir River Bridge, is still undergoing repairs after cracks emerged on one of its tracks.
An engineer of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) working at the site, requesting anonymity, said that one of the tyres of a heavy vehicle was punctured on the bridge last month. He added that the tyre was replaced with a single jack, which increased pressure and weight on the road's surface and damaged it. "When we took up the damaged surface, we found out that a huge portion of the concrete had already loosened," he said.
Nevertheless, District Municipal Corporation (DMC) Korangi chairman Nayar Raza promised that the work is expected to be completed by Wednesday and traffic movement will resume on Thursday.
The bridge, which spans 5 kilometres (km) over the Malir River, connects Shah Faisal Town with Korangi. It was inaugurated by Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad in February, 2009, after which it had shortened the distance by 28km for the residents of Korangi, Landhi and Shah Faisal towns.
To enable its construction, around 42 houses were demolished and the owners were compensated by the government.
No way out
Meanwhile, DMC Korangi chairman Raza said that commuters are using Sharae Altaf through the Malir Court and the Quaidabad area as diversion.
However, according to one of the residents of Shah Faisal Town, Danish Ali, the diversion road through Quaidabad is full of ditches and continuously inundated with sewage water. He said that if one travels to Korangi No 5, using the Malir River Bridge, the distance could be covered in no more than five minutes. "[However] when we take the route through Quaidabad, we remain stuck in traffic and it takes almost an hour to reach Korangi No 5."
Impact on industries
An official of Bin Qasim Association of Trade and Industry, Abdul Rehman, said that industrial life has come to a halt due to the temporary closure of the Malir River Bridge.
The labourers of different industries including the managerial staff are facing immense problems due to the repair work. The diversion road through Quaidabad is completely broken and cannot be brought under use, he said. "Our foreign delegates and engineers used to be brought to our industries through the Malir River Bridge," he said, adding that the bridge was the only decent route to the Korangi Industrial Area.
Delay in repairs
Initially, KMC faced a lot of problems while controlling the traffic along with repair work, pointed out the KMC engineer, adding that the damaged part was in the centre of the bridge and they could not stop the traffic.
DMC Korangi chairman Raza told The Express Tribune that as the two-way traffic was allowed to be plied on the other track, the vibration from the movement of the traffic was affecting the repair work. Due to this, he said, they had to close the entire bridge for any kind of traffic movement. Later, he said, they discovered that the other track's concrete had also gotten loose and they had to repair that as well.
According to the KMC engineer, the curing of the concrete is underway, which is done to mitigate cracks in the concrete that severely impacts the durability of the bridge.
According to Raza, the work is expected to be completed by Wednesday and traffic movement will resume on Thursday. Due to Eidul Azha, the labourers were on leave and the plans for road carpeting were delayed, he reasoned. He explained that the curing and carpeting takes quite a long time.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2016.
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