RAWALPINDI: After the customs cargo (airfreight unit) building at the Islamabad International Airport (IIA) started caving in, the authorities have decided to shift all staff and workers to an alternative place.
Initially, small cracks appeared on the walls along with a leakage from the drain in the office of a senior officer and other rooms but the cracks started increasing day by day. A portion of the building is now caving in.
Senior officers of the customs department brought the issue to the notice of the airport manager and the project director of the IIA intimating them that the building was no longer safe for those working there.
Cracks in cargo unit building have widened, offices to be shifted to a safer place on Monday, official says
Additional Collector Customs Nisar Ahmed told Dawn that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would start shifting the office of the airfreight unit to another place, comprising two rooms, on Monday.
He confirmed that cracks in the building had widened and the building was caving in from one side making it no longer safe to work in.
The official said the airfreight unit office was shifted to the newly-constructed building on May 1, two days before the new airport was formally opened.
But the cracks started appearing in the walls after three months.
“After a letter was written to the CAA, the authority plastered the walls to fill the cracks but alarm bells started ringing when the building started caving in a few days ago.
“How people can work under such a dangerous situation by risking their lives. It’s better to evacuate the staff.”
The customs authorities informed the CAA and the project director that the building of the airfreight unit was in an extremely shabby and dangerous condition.
The building is bearing huge cracks and the gaps in the cracks are increasing with every passing day.
They said every day new cracks were identified and the building was crumbling very quickly.
The authorities said the condition of the building had made the place very insecure to sit and work in.
Every day almost 200 to 250 people come to work in the building and the situation is affecting their performance and creating hindrance in the discharge of their duties.
They also expressed their concern and said it might be dangerous for people if precautionary measures were not taken on time.
The building is also housing a post office and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) branch where more than 200 to 300 people either work or visit during working days. All these offices would be relocated.
A CAA spokesperson told Dawn that soon after the customs authorities complained about the cracks in the building, senior experts arrived from Karachi and inspected the building.
“The CAA has provided an alternative space to the customs staff after they complained about the cracks in the building,” the spokesperson said, adding that an investigation had also been launched to find out how the newly-constructed building developed cracks.
Hardly seven months have passed since the new IIA was constructed at a cost of over Rs105 billion. A number of incidents such as the collapse of false ceiling, choking of sewerage lines and stinking water in offices have occurred since the new airport became functional.
Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2018