GILGIT (ET): A team of experts has begun investigating into what led to the collapse of an under-construction RCC bridge in Hunza Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). Engineer Ali Muzaffar, Superintendent Engineer Basharat and Hunza Assistant Commissioner Asim Raza were part of the investigation team formed on the directives of GB Chief Secretary Sikandar Sultan Raja.
Due for completion back in 2008, Hussainabad Bridge was supposed to connect Shinaki area of Hunza with Karakoram Highway (KKH). However, earlier this week it fell into the river along with the hope that Shinaki residents will finally be better connected to other areas. Shinaki area, which is just short of Hunza town, consists of three villages – Hussainabad, Mayon and Khanabad – with an approximate population of 10,000 people.
“The experts are examining if the design and material used were what caused the collapse,” an official at the Works Department said on Saturday.
The bridge was initiated at an estimated cost of around Rs400 million in 2006 but this figure rose to over Rs900 million by 2013, due to unexplained delays in construction.
Earlier, a resident of Shinaki and former district council vice chairman, Iman Shah, told The Express Tribune that as far as he knew, the contractor was paid in advance which was a cause for concern. Shah said three of the pillars caved in as a result of using substandard material.
The enquiry report will determine who was responsible for the negligence, if any, which led to the bridge’s downfall. The team will submit their findings to the chief secretary in the next couple of days, the official added. The incident has provoked anger towards Chief Minister Mehdi Shah’s government that has already been marred by allegations of corruption over the years.
“It’s unfortunate that bad people have surrounded the chief minister,” said GB Assembly Speaker, Wazir Baig. “The system is bad and whosoever tries to put it on track is posted out,” said Baig, indirectly referring to former chief secretary Younas Dagha, who was transferred to Islamabad after he sacked hundreds of employees wrongfully appointed to government posts