LAHORE: One of the Orange Line Metro Train project’s construction sites gave a deserted look on Saturday for the workers have stopped work, saying that the workplace is not safe.

Why did the workers decide to do so?

One of their colleagues, Muhammad Hasan, of Okara, died on Thursday due to landsliding at an excavated portion of the project’s site Kotli Ghaasi near Dera Gujjaran. They were working for a Water and Sanitation Agency’s project to lay sewerage/drainage concrete pipes.

Hasan’s uncle was also injured while working in a vertically excavated trench.

Now, the site is being guarded by two security people.

One of the guards recalls the scenes of the fateful day.

Project claims another life

“I was standing bit far from the place where the workers were laying pipes in a trench,” he says.

“Suddenly I heard the cries of the workers, and as I ran to them, I found Hassan and his uncle buried in the trench.” The workers on the site dug the ground and retrieved Hasan’s uncle first while it took a good deal of time to remove Hassan from the trench.” Both were taken to hospital where Hasan, 18, died.

A worker, who works at a nearby construction site, said though they did not know Hasan well, they were so sad after they heard about the incident. “He was so smart, healthy and beautiful,” he added.

Talking to Dawn, another worker said they had come to know that the contractor had paid Rs100,000 to the uncle of the deceased Hasan as compensation, that was a peanut. He said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced Rs3 million to each worker’s family who had died in a factory wall collapse near Dera Gujran. He said the excavation of the trench vertically was a threat to workers’ life.

“I will request the senior officials to at least ensure the workers’ safety first rather than putting their life at risk only to meet short deadline,” he said, demanding a handsome compensation for the deceased and the injured.

According to the Lahore Development Authority, the contractor has been held responsible for carrying out excavation work in a wrong way that caused the death of the worker. “The trench was dug vertically that caused landslide which trapped the workers. Had the trench been a sloppy, the incident would have been averted,” LDA Chief Engineer Asrar Saeed told Dawn.

Mr Saeed, who heads the entire project team, said the matter had been reported to a committee that deals with such events, on Thursday.

When asked about the repeated occurrence of such incidence since the start of project’s civil work, the official said the factor of negligence was on the part of contractors. “We’re trying hard to avert such incidence by ensuring health and safety measures at construction and rest areas through a committee,” he said.

Eleven workers have died at the Orange Line sites.

“We have also recommended Rs1 million compensation for deceased Hasan’s family and Rs300,000 for his uncle and the amount would be released to the families,” Mr Saeed pledged.

Talking to Dawn, ZKB-Reliable JV site safety coordinator Imran Sajid refused to own the site where Hasan died due to land sliding.

“Actually that site is being managed by a Wasa contractor and not by us. Our sites are related to civil work at the depot, yard etc,” he said, claiming that the company was conscious about the health and safety of its workers.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2016



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