RAWALPINDI: Despite a lapse of five years, re-modelling of the busiest bridge over Soan River near Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench building is still not complete and it may now take longer to complete the project as the contract was terminated as a result of delays and poor workmanship.

The project was supposed to be complete by January 2022.

According to a senior official of National Highway Authority (NHA), the contract of re-modelling of the bridge had been terminated in April 2022 due to some reasons. He said strict notice had already been taken at the top level in the establishment and a new contract would be awarded to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) so that expansion of the bridge could be completed as soon as possible.

Construction work on the bridge was started in 2017 and was scheduled to be finished by Jan 20, 2022. Sources said senior officials of NHA were summoned by higher authorities who expressed concern over the slow pace of work.Later, during a meeting, it was decided that a fresh contract would be awarded to the FWO to complete the remaining work.

The lack of safety precautions on the stretch of the bridge where safety barriers had been demolished and debris abandoned on the site would become apparent to anybody who visited it. Additionally, during the building phase, concrete and mixed cement, spilled or leaked from mixing machines, is still lying in the centre of the road, slowing down traffic.

Many housing societies are connected by Soan Bridge to Kutchery Chowk, Saddar, and Murree Road whereas hundreds of cars and commuters use this bridge regularly despite the constant fear of disaster.

Since their cabin was also demolished, the City Traffic Police has been similarly troubled by the situation. They have been left without drinking water or a chair on hot summer days, making it difficult for them to control traffic on the crumbling road.

Bilal, who uses the road everyday, said that he travelled abroad frequently and watched the pace and calibre of construction work in several locations, but he had never witnessed such egregious work quality or neglect from relevant authorities.

“It is more surprising is to see that there are no safety precautions, no emergency light blaring at the construction site where the safety wall of the bridge has been demolished and debris was lying on the bridge,” he said, adding he has never seen a light on the bridge while crossing it at night.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022

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