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LDA greenlights traffic after plugging The Mall sinkholes

Updated July 05, 2018

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The road at GPO Chowk is being levelled after filling sinkholes which appeared during heavy rain on Tuesday. — White Star
The road at GPO Chowk is being levelled after filling sinkholes which appeared during heavy rain on Tuesday. — White Star

LAHORE: A day after the torrential rain wreaked havoc on the city, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) claimed on Wednesday that a number of open ducts caused seepage of water under the road resulting in sinkholes on The Mall, and shifted the blame on the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) for the mess.

“During torrential rain a number of PTCL open ducts located in a chamber near the GPO intersection became a carrier of water seepage under the road. Water through these ducts found its way over the passage of time through the subsoil into the under-construction pedestrian underpass and the unsealed ducts caused erosion of the subsoil leading to formation of cavity under the road resulting in overall collapse,” LDA Director General Ms Amna Imran Khan told caretaker Chief Minister Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi who, along with two provincial ministers and senior government officials, visited the area on Wednesday.

“A cavity measuring 15m X 12m X 6m appeared,” she added.

Officials blame PTCL for patchy underground work

Craters or sinkholes on roads during rains or even in dry weather appeared in many parts of Punjab in the past. A few months ago a bus ended up in a sinkhole that developed on a road in Multan. Many passengers were injured in the accident.

“Depression in a road infrastructure usually happens if there is improper or substandard earth-filling, compaction and asphalt-laying works. So the appearance of sinkholes on The Mall clearly points out negligence of those entrusted with the task of building road infrastructure according to engineering guidelines,” says a civil engineer.

Whenever a sinkhole or depression appears, it means surface of the ground is no longer supported. “It means there is no adequate support to the surface of the ground. And if the open PTCL ducts caused water seepage under the ground in this case, why these were not checked during construction of an underground pedestrian underpass or ahead of the monsoon,” he raised the point while speaking to Dawn on the request of anonymity.

According to the LDA, a “record” 252mm rain fell in Lahore on Tuesday. The LDA staff along with the consultant and contractors quickly responded and proceeded to ascertain the extent of damage and its causes.

“The damage control measures have been taken with immediate deployment of human resource, consultant and contractors who made blockage of drain water by rising embankments all around the ditch and plugging the open PTCL’s ducts (source of water entrance). The staff also inserted corrugated sheets in front of underground piles, made dumping of earthen material up to 3m depth,” the LDA DG further told the CM.

She said the officials also did dumping of the “Lawrencepur sand” as a firm embankment covered with adding cement on top up to a depth of 3m, laying aggregate sub-base material to make the road motorable, clearing of site and road that was opened for traffic overnight. “The officials also ensured dewatering of accumulated rainwater from cut and cover sections,” Ms Khan said.

Later, the DG told media that the LDA officials opened the road for traffic after repairing the affected portion within a short span of time. “We have opened the road for traffic after completion of filling, compaction and other works but asphalt work will be done after the monsoon,” she said.

According to the LDA spokesman, the chief minister appreciated the team for effectively responding to the situation.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018