An under-construction RCC bridge in Hunza Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) collapsed in the Hunza River on Tuesday, substantiating allegations of corruption that have marred successive regional governments over the years.
Work on Hussainabad Bridge started back in 2006 in order to connect Shinaki area of Hunza with Karakoram Highway (KKH) – the thoroughfare connecting Pakistan with China through G-B. The bridge was supposed to be completed by 2008 at a cost of Rs400 million. However it remained ‘under construction’ till it collapsed in 2014, with its cost reaching over Rs900 million.
“Almost 60% of the work was completed before this unfortunate incident,” a resident of Shinaki and former district council vice chairman, Iman Shah, said on Tuesday.
Shinaki area, which is just short of Hunza town, consists of three villages – Hussainabad, Mayon and Khanabad – with an approximate population of 10,000 people.
“The project (bridge) was to cost slightly over Rs400 million and was supposed to be completed by 2008,” Iman Shah told The Express Tribune.
“As far as I know, payment to the contractor had also been made in advance and this is something we all are worried about,” Shah said, adding three of the pillars caved in as a result of using substandard material.
Minister for Works Bashir Ahmed said a swift enquiry would be conducted to ascertain factors which led to the collapse of the bridge. “It is really painful to hear about it,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
“But we will find out what has caused it and we will ensure the culprits are taken to task,” assured Ahmed, who is a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) which is a coalition partner of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led government in G-B.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2014.
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