WHILE potholed roads and decrepit pedestrian bridges are the norm in Karachi, when defects emerge in major bridges or flyovers the risk such structures pose to human life is considerably greater. The Shershah bridge collapse should not be forgotten: five people died when a portion of the newly inaugurated bridge came down in 2007, reportedly due to a design flaw. So we must note with concern that the Jam Sadiq Ali bridge, which connects the Korangi Industrial Area with the rest of Karachi and is used by heavy traffic, is in such bad shape that it may collapse unless immediate repairs are carried out. Karachi’s administrator made this disturbing disclosure on Thursday before the Sindh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee. The official claimed repair work had been delayed because federal funds meant for Karachi had not been released.
Due to their age and heavy traffic, many of Karachi’s bridges have developed structural defects and are in need of immediate repairs. Yet, as engineers note, a satisfactory monitoring mechanism does not exist to examine potential faults and a lot of the repair work itself is substandard. If defects are not repaired immediately they can cause further problems down the line. It is essential, then, that proper repair work is carried out on the Jam Sadiq bridge and structural analyses of the city’s other bridges and major roads undertaken. While it is true that, given the poor quality of construction material used, many engineers ‘overdesign’ structures to make them sturdier, it does not mean that these should not be regularly checked for faults that may develop. The traffic police also needs to play its role in this regard: most heavy vehicles carry loads beyond their capacity, which not only creates road hazards but also decreases the life of the city’s thoroughfares and bridges.