SUKKUR: Ayub Bridge, named after Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, can be truly declared as one of the prides of Sukkur. It has served the city for 50 years by providing a strong link for rail traffic between Sukkur and Rohri. Earlier on, Landsdowne Bridge did the same job.
Landsdowne Bridge used to be one of the main ways to get from Sukkur to Rohri, across the river. Motor boats were available but it was felt that another bridge was needed for motorists and Ayub Bridge was conceived.
Construction started on November 26, 1959 and its foundation stone was laid on December 9, 1960 by the then minister of railways and communication, Khan FM Khan, Khan of Shewa. The contractor of the bridge was M/S Dorman Long Gammon of London, famous for Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. The consulting engineer was DB Steinman of New York – the man who reconstructed the famous Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan inaugurated the bridge on May, 6, 1962 and interestingly it was a Sunday, exactly the same day as the day it turns 50, May 6.
The bridge is 806 feet long, 247 feet high and cost Rs21.6 million.
Boatman Mir Mohammad alias Miroo recalled how his father Yar Mohammad used to run a small service between Sukkur and Rohri till the early sixties. “Very few people had cars or motorcycles at that time and therefore motor boats were the only way of communication.” Some people used to cross the River Indus by Landsdowne Bridge on bicycle. The train used to run in the center of the bridge and pedestrians and cyclists used the wooden walkways at both sides.
The fare for a single adult passenger was one anna (16 annas to a rupee) back in the day. They charged half an anna or a takka for a child.
The bridge also helped with something as simple as grocery shopping as people in Rohri had to come to Sukkur to stock up. After Ayub Bridge was ready, the rail traffic from Landsdowne Bridge was shifted to it and the latter was used for motorists and pedestrians. The divisional superintendent of the railways at Sukkur, Sardar Shaikh, said that they were going to be holding a small function to commemorate Ayub Bridge’s golden anniversary on Sunday night.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.