A bridge collapse may disrupt the slumber

ISLAMABAD: The decades’ old Burma Pull caved in due to heavy gush of water in the nullah back in 2008. By each passing day, the twin bridges are posing bigger threat to the people plying on the road. The duo stands on a precarious balance. Yet no one seems to worry. The day this structure collapses on the garbage heap below, the media and the Islamabad’s apathetic civic body may swing in action.The bridge is as old as the road connecting Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH). Now, a popular attraction of land mafia is the land west of Khanna Pull (Khanna Bridge), which used to be a playground of pigs and other animals. Only in extreme emergency, the people travel on this dangerous road. With the development of Chak Shahzad and allotment of huge pieces of land as farmhouses to the rich and mighty, the CDA has started paying attention to the road connecting Rawal Chowk to Taramari Chowk. After Musharraf bought some property from the Nishtar family, not only the Park Road was expanded and doubled, but also the Khanna Road connecting the PINSTECH too met similar treatment. Neither did the locals demand such a favour, nor did they expect. Overnight value of the land adjacent to the Park Road as well as the Khanna Road skyrocketed. Without any sensible development on the part of the local community or meticulous town planning at the hands of the CDA, plazas, shopping centres, marriage halls, and housing societies cropped up.Since then, this bridge caved in and was declared dangerous for traffic. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry remains elected representative of the NA-49. The collapsing bridge is just a few miles away from the property of the twice elected legislature. The fact is that his inaction on such a threat to human life and safety has failed to anger his voters and shows how deep-rooted family and clan politics in Islamabad’s countryside is. One can’t help draw parallels with feudal lords of Sindh and Islamabad’s local elite. The Islamabad traffic police, which have long lost its luster as a model service, have never bothered to ensure that the public do not use the life-risking structure. Neither are there any warning signs for the public about the danger ahead, nor any diversion advised.With monsoon rains expected in the last week of July, the Burma Bridge becomes more vulnerable to collapsing with some unfortunate bikers and vehicles plying on it at the time. With the presence of a relatively new parallel bridge, it’s easier to reconstruct the collapsing structure without much hassle. To many conscientious citizens in the area, a suo moto action by the Pakistan’s chief justice can awake the CDA and other line department from the slumber. This time around, a tragedy resulted from the collapse of the Burma Bridge may motivate the public to claim damages from the CDA as well as the federal government. Chaudhry might have won for the second time in a row but the mood of the public is changing rapidly.

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Aaj Kal