ISLAMABAD, Feb 12: A 10-metre-long portion of a road close to the Polyclinic has caved in, creating a traffic mess and threatening to damage the underpass at the site.
Tell-tale signs of the coming disaster had been visible for months, but the Capital Development Authority (CDA) ignored them until it hit two weeks ago.
Even now, the CDA has not undertaken any repairs. It just blocked the collapsed road, cutting off access from the Polyclinic side to the Fazle-i-Haq Road and the Jinnah Avenue.
“We will be fixing the problem within a week time,” Ramzan Sajid, spokesman for the CDA,” assured Dawn, adding “we are really sorry for the inconvenience caused to the general public.”
Meanwhile, people in the engineering wing of the CDA worry about the underpass which runs below the two roads - the commercial heart of Islamabad with rows of offices, banks, hotels and shops.
One official of the wing noted that the so-called China Chowk underpass, built at a cost of Rs700 million, had already been facing drainage problems. “If the damage above is not repaired quickly, the problem could worsen,” he said.
It is the first major incident that exposes the poor construction of the contractors the CDA engaged for executing its Rs20 billion project of building roads, flyovers and underpasses in the city between 2005 and 2007.
Minor repair works on the structures have been going on all the time.
But the responsibility of the collapse of the road, and the disruption it brought to citizens, rests entirely on the CDA.
Bad planning is seen behind the collapse. According to the CDA, leakage from the underground water pipeline or sewage line at the site weakened the road.
“This is not ‘Islamabad the Beautiful’ the CDA advertises. It is an eyesore,” said Noman Manzoor, an IT graduate working for a multinational company located close to the underpass.
A senior CDA official remarked that the incident “puts a question mark at the development approach of the CDA”.
A doctor of the Polyclinic observed that the congestion that the traffic coming from Melody and Aabpara market created at the point on normal days had increased two fold since the cave in.
“I don't have the quick access to Blue Area I used to have. Now I have to take a circuitous route via the Embassy Road, or some other alternative route, for the same,” he said.
CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid however insisted that “CDA chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz had already taken action over the damaged patch”.
That action was the forming of a committee to probe the caving in that found that a damaged water pipeline was to be blamed for the rupture of the link road.
“After a thorough scrutiny and proper investigation by the engineering wing, it was decided to conduct a major repair of the water pipeline,” said the spokesman.