Tragic day.

Does a Karachi life mean less to the powers that be and to its own people? We already see that people in Karachi having grown up in / around or being affected by gun culture, can so easily speak about killing another human being. Now the latest is this tragedy. A bridge collapses in 25 days since its inauguration.

25 days.

Why do our people, construction folks and engineers feel its ‘ok’ to create sub standard structures? Are Karachi people that low on the priority scale that losing Karachi lives is acceptable?

25 days?

How poor must the construction have been? How poorly can you think of your brethrens that you sell weak/diluted cement and insufficiently strengthened steel structures or simply create a bad design?

To complain about the folks who may have built sub standard bridges is one thing, but why does our gawking public have to thrust their way into every situation? If you are not on the search and rescue squad do not hinder their progress. Keep away like the authorities were asking you to. How many lives must have been affected by the delays caused by the chaotic crowds? These are full grown adults. Staring into cameras. Hindering the progress of the rescue operation. Not helping anyone. Are they “agents” wanting to sabotage rescue operations? It’s not a lack of “education”, it’s a lack of humanity. If you cannot help, allow passage to those who can. We all contribute to Karachi lives meaning less and less.

Tragedies here are sadder. They mean more because in other areas around the world, people’s humanity, their desire to help their fellow humans, irrespective of their backgrounds, becomes apparent at such times. Here we see godlessness. No one wants to help and those who are trying to, are hindered due to the lack of caring by the bystanders. If you can’t help, at least allow those who are wanting to. This same mentality is apparent in everything we do. If someone has a new idea, its shot down and labeled as “this is Pakistan, things happen differently here” meaning let things get from bad to worse, no one is interested in improving things around here.

Why do our people want to lag behind? Even comparing ourselves to the rest of Urban Pakistan is becoming a joke. People visiting from Lahore categorically feel they live in a better city (going so far as to saying they are in a first world city, while Karachi lags behind in the third world), as far as daily issues and infrastructure are concerned.

As a city we are becoming crippled mentally. Do we WANT to lag behind? I have been proud of Karachi and Karachi-ites for their spirit but if your fellow citizen means less everyday, should one be proud of the Karachi Mentality?

23 Comments so far

  1. Omar Bilal Akhtar (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 2:01 pm

    Hey Saba,

    This is one of the first posts that I’ve seen on KMB that refers to the single most important thing we as Karachiites need, which is humanity.

    These last couple of months I’ve seen KMB degenerate from a lively forum of discussion to a place where we are constantly finding new ways to divide ourselves.

    At a time like this, when our city is in a crisis, you would think that Karachiites would come together, to support one another and be compassionate. Yet when anything happens we come here and start mudslinging and telling everyone that they have no right to comment because they have been labelled

    Burger, Maila, Jamati, MQM, Moderate, Liberal, Other-side-of-the-bridge, Sunni, Shia, Elitist, Jaahil, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan,

    We will never progress if everyone continues to hold these age old irrelevant grudges against each other. You forget, we all live in the same city, and we all grieve for the same people.

    Compassion. Please be compassionate. Listen to what everyone has to say. You don’t have to agree with it. But respect it. It’s a simple concept. Forger EVERYTHING OUTSIDE and focus on your home, its our home. And living in the same home makes us all family. And family will always show support even if they dont agree on everything in the house.

    I hope that the people who are fortunate enought to have access to this site will remember that we are all on the same team, working for the same life in Karachi.

    much love,
    -Omar Akhtar.

  2. MB (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 2:22 pm
  3. asa (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    Part of the problem is that we just wanna move on and not take people to task who are involved in corruption and breaking law. Sorry we can’t move on and not hold peeople responsible…

    if we really want to Karachi prosperous then all the ppl who involved in this tragedy regardless of any party or any institution they belong should be accountable.

    our Goal should be justice for all.

  4. silver (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 2:53 pm

    “Burger, Maila, Jamati, MQM, Moderate, Liberal, Other-side-of-the-bridge, Sunni, Shia, Elitist, Jaahil, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan,”

    Age old grudges??? MQM a Label??

    Sorry my dear MQM is a disease that plagues us, it is more than a label.

    By the way people were initially trying to help, they were digging with their bare hands.

    But then it is natural for our curious people wanting to see a 1400 ton segment fall on cars, buses and rehriwalas. Lack of education has its costs.

  5. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

    Plague is retired Defence Officers who ASK for prized positions in institutions which are solely responsible for public service and accessible by common people.

    Plague is the curse of RETIREE MAFIA who ALWAYS complaint as lack of MERIT SYSTEM, which they themselves destroy.

    Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey and……….Burma are the WORST examples quoted in DEVELOPED World where the Civilians PAY to RULERS for the benefit of RULERS and previliged.

    Some basic Education and discipline of highest level in daily life makes a Fauji better then commoner, and thats where they become FEROUNs and call US ‘these bloody civilians’

    Education and Discipline – shall be prime focus in daily life for the generation who is coming into being, and still crawling in diapers so they do not suffer as majority is suffering.

  6. Zeba (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

    education elevates a person from low to high where cast, breed, ethinic, BINDINGS are Secondary.

    However, the basic family nature, religious and moral bindings remain intact.

    Humanity is what Rasool Allah (PBUH) preached, for 40 years HE was SADIQ & AMEEN.

    40 years later Allah (swt) gave him prophecy, though he was CHOOSEN ONE, for ALL

    Humanity is what we lack as Muslims and as Pakistanis. we are punjabis, balochis, mohajirs, sindhi, saraiki, pashton, gilgiti, hunzai, aghakhani, deobandi, baralvi, shia, sunni, qadiani, bohri, gujrati, kachi, jahil, gunwar, etc etc, and we cannot tolerate others.

    we are not humans, let alone be pakistanis’

  7. omar r. quraishi (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

    Saba your rant obviously indicates that you werent around when the earthquake happened in karachi — and quit blaming ordinary people for hampering the ‘rescue operation’ — sheesh

    i think this post clearly illustrates the fact that pakistanis themselves are to blame for what befalls them — instead of ranting against the NHA or the NLC (I bet she doesnt know what they are) she is criticising ordinary people

    zeba – humanity doesnt need a religion — quit sermonising and bringing religion into everything

  8. aegis (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 4:34 pm

    I completely agree with saba. Even if people tried digging with their own hands, they need to understand that they never would have accomplished anything, though i appreciate and acknowledge that they wanted to help but in the end they created a problem for the rescue operation. I would like to highlight what saba said, she only criticised those bystanders which were there doing nothing, they wer if not in thousands but def. in hundreds present there just looking. I saw it on TV and thought, who are these ppl, dont they have anything better to do than to just stand there and do nothing.




  9. Petarian_88 (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

    you people find it strange y prople stop to have a look!

    it’s natural for Human apes to be curious.

    last month there was atragic traffic accident on the emirates road in dubai due to a head on collission and 3 people died.

    there was a bus full of mazdoors and it stopped and people came out to have a look within a few seconds they were run over by another bus and at least 3 more died on the spot!

    curiosity can ne leathal!

  10. Petarian_88 (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 5:08 pm


    your jazba is commendable!

    please join Edhi or a similar thing. we need to strenghten the few good NGO’s we have. creating a dozen more would only devide our energies.

    besides, even a few hundred untrained volunteers are not what is needed.

  11. BitterTruth (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

    ECIL the consultants for this bridg of Northern Bypass are also consultants for Karachi Master Plan and the Sadar Parking Plaza. You can guess the consequences.

  12. Ohmygod (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 6:47 pm


    As Dan Brown says:

    ‘Nothing sparks human interest as much as human tragedy’.

    As a civil defense rescue trainee, the first thing I was taught to know when I cannot help, and to remove myself from the spot (so that the injured has more free oxygen etc.) In addition, you sound really stupid when you say that this is not because of a lack of education. Please note that you are one of those people who have been privileged enough to have received at least 12 yrs of education. Things which we, graduates find easier than common sense are utterly impossible for some people to understand just because they are cursed into ignorance. YOU sound inhuman targeting them like this.


    I agree, this stupid militarization (this is bound to happen where that Barakzai who doesn’t know tuppence about transportation is heading NHA.)


    You sound very impractical when you say ‘let’s start some rescue party by ourselves’. You are so ignorant may be you can’t even think of the expense of maintaining rescue equipment and parties. Just for example the smallest and cheapest concrete cutter uses a diamond bit which costs Rs. 32,000. Things like CO2 detectors, sound detectors and crawlers aren’t even heard of in Pakistan. Where are you living? Under a rock?


    Although I’m all praise for Edhi, but this doesn’t mean their ambulances are ambulances. They are just transport vehicles. Acc to wikipedia ‘The term ambulance is used to describe a vehicle used to bring medical care to patients outside of the hospital and when appropriate, to transport the patient to hospital for follow-up care’. This means that ambulance must have at least a first-aid box and oxygen supply. Where in Pakistan have you seen such a setup?

  13. Ohmygod (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 6:57 pm


    I reread the whole article again. And I’m really pissed off when people who don’t have any idea of what they’re speaking begin ranting.

    What is ‘weak/diluted cement’?

    What are ‘insufficiently strengthened steel structures’?

    Huh, I don’t know of any steel structure in Karachi except for the flyover that crosses over Clifton bridge. If you are so ‘jahil’ you can’t differentiate b/w a steel and PSC structure can’t you keep your words in your mouth?

    And mind it, at least 3000 (three thousand) construction folk were involved in this project. All of them can’t be so inhuman. In fact many people and families and loved ones were and would be still using this way had it not collapsed.

    Plz. think before you start blabbering about things you don’t know (not to say there was no corruption/slack/laziness at all, but what you are saying is not the most correct thing I’ve ever seen either).

  14. malaika rizwi (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2007 @ 7:35 pm

    when will the government ever consider the lives of pakistanies as important!?!?

  15. D0ct0r (unregistered) on September 4th, 2007 @ 2:01 am

    @Ohmygod irony is that they were aware of the fault in design still they went ahead with the construction… thats criminal negligence..

  16. aegis (unregistered) on September 4th, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

    @ OH MY GOD

    If it makes you happy my friend, yes, i live under a rock, right besides you !!!


    I only raised that point (making a rescue team) cos i felt thats what we need it. I am not aware if we have one here or not.
    If anyone thought that i want a couple of dozen people holding a bunch of “belchas and kudaals” and wandering off to disasters, i did not mean that. Obviously when u start something like that you wud need a lot of capital. A lot of NGO’s will be able to help us with that.
    Think about when Mr. Edhi started his services, if at that point he wud have listened to someone like “OMG” , which i am sure, there are a lot in our society, where wud HE be today.

    If i remember correctly, there was once a time when a majority of pakistani’s were unaware of KFC, Mcdonalds, porsche, mini coopers, TT (pistol) and a lot of other brands and many simple things. The awareness comes to us when we either see them or hear abt them.

    The whole idea of forming a rescue team would require time, capital and a lot of positive ppl, who want to serve their nation.

    My only request to all my friends out there is to THINK POSITIVE.

    GOD BLESS US ALL (specially those who live under rocks)

  17. aegis (unregistered) on September 4th, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

    @ OH MY GOD

    If it makes you happy my friend, yes, i live under a rock, right besides you !!!


    I only raised that point (making a rescue team) cos i felt thats what we need it. I am not aware if we have one here or not.
    If anyone thought that i want a couple of dozen people holding a bunch of “belchas and kudaals” and wandering off to disasters, i did not mean that. Obviously when u start something like that you wud need a lot of capital. A lot of NGO’s will be able to help us with that.
    Think about when Mr. Edhi started his services, if at that point he wud have listened to someone like “OMG” , which i am sure, there are a lot in our society, where wud HE be today.

    If i remember correctly, there was once a time when a majority of pakistani’s were unaware of KFC, Mcdonalds, porsche, mini coopers, TT (pistol) and a lot of other brands and many simple things. The awareness comes to us when we either see them or hear abt them.

    The whole idea of forming a rescue team would require time, capital and a lot of positive ppl, who want to serve their nation.

    My only request to all my friends out there is to THINK POSITIVE.

    GOD BLESS US ALL (both, who live under and above rocks)

  18. basit (unregistered) on September 4th, 2007 @ 10:39 pm

    you people find it strange y prople stop to have a look!

    it’s natural for Human apes to be curious.

    last month there was atragic traffic accident on the emirates road in dubai due to a head on collission and 3 people died.

  19. bally (unregistered) on September 5th, 2007 @ 3:02 am

    Why did the bridge fail?

    By By Roland deSouza
    The sudden collapse of a curved elevated section of the recently-inaugurated Karachi Northern Bypass (KNB) at the intersection of the RCD Highway and Central Avenue in SITE has sent tremors through the engineering community and the government construction industry. About ten people have died so far, and numerous vehicles (including a donkey) lie crushed in the debris of the structure.

    The question on everyone’s lips: Whose fault is it? This is difficult question to answer without a detailed investigation into the original design, the construction quality, the construction supervision record, the subsequent strengthening design, and many other factors. Can the government ensure that this is competently done without any cover-ups or concealments?

    Allegedly, about a year ago, the structure of the bridge tilted during construction. A decision was made not to dismantle and reconstruct, but to provide external reinforcement after jacking up the sagging portion. In hindsight, the decision may be questioned — but it was made at the time by supposedly responsible professionals with an ethical duty to public safety.

    At my request, a noted structural engineer involved in bridge designing posed some questions that need to be investigated in the forensic engineering analysis (see box).

    Of the various actors in the KNB drama (owner, consultant, contractor), two are military-run organisations. The National Highway Authority (NHA), the federal organisation that commissioned the 56-kilometre bypass is headed by Maj. General Imtiaz Ahmed as Chairman (although most of the project was done under the chairmanship of Maj. General Farrukh Jawed).

    The construction contractor is the National Logistics Cell (NLC), an organisation whose ‘Sarbarah’ is the Quarter Master General, Lt. General Afzal Muzaffar, and the Director-General is Maj. General Khalid Zaheer. NLC was created in1978 as a crisis management organisation of the federal government. It works in close co-operation with the Army and is primarily driven by manpower drawn from there. NLC’s diversification into mushroom businesses, investments, construction and collection of toll taxes has caused concern in the government and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) circles. They are now venturing into speculative commercial construction, with the over-sized 43-storey Karachi Financial Towers proposed to be erected on a 2.5 acre plot carved out of the amenity railway yard on I.I. Chundrigar Road.

    The designers for the KNB are Engineering Consultants International (Pvt) Ltd (ECIL) a 700-professional strong consultancy firm, headed by Engr. Zaheer Mirza. Some, yet unnamed, foreign consultants were brought in to oversee the strengthening of the tilted bridge structure.

    Shamim Siddique, the MQM Federal Minister for Communications, is reported to have said “I am ready to resign if there is any mistake on my part.” Politicians are acrobats: They keep their balance by saying the opposite of what they do!

    Pakistani leaders are well-known for expressing “deep shock” and “severe grief over loss of life”. They are equally well-known for promising “to leave no stone unturned” during the investigation to “fix the responsibility”, and “make accountable” the guilty persons. But our record of delivering on these exaggerated promises is dismal. So don’t hold your breath.

    How easy will it be to find a military-run organisation at fault, even though all the three actors in the drama probably participated in the decision to choose the strengthening option over the dismantling/reconstruction one?

    There have been numerous catastrophic structural collapses during Pakistan’s 60-year history; the most recent being the Margalla Towers in Islamabad. Angelique Apartments, Dadabhoy Centre, and Fayza Heights are among the many known to all in Karachi. Holes have developed in the deck slabs of Jam Sadiq Ali Bridge in Korangi, and, for the second time, in the bridge connecting Sharae Faisal to Rashid Minhas Road. There is dire need to continuously evaluate the safety of old bridges and structures, and to verify the integrity of various over/underpasses (Nazimabad, Liaquatablad Gharibabad, etc) both recently-built and those under construction (Askari-IV, Jahaur Intersection, Gulshan Chowrangi, Nagan Chowrangi, etc). Have these all been built by qualified, PEC-licensed contractors and designed/supervised by competent engineering consultants?

    We need to move from blaming God (Allah Ki Marzi) for all calamities, to ensuring better standards of construction and safety in Pakistan.

    Some questions that need to be asked

    ‚Ä¢ The curved part of the bridge seems to have collapsed when a cement tanker was passing near the middle of the curved span. Had ‘torsion’ and ‘shear’ been taken into account in the design?

    • Extensive fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composite retrofit reinforcement appear to have been applied at the bottom, sides of web, and as confinement to the circular columns as strengthening of the structure after it was constructed. How was the necessity of this strengthening realised, and to what degree of thoroughness was the repair/retrofit analysed?

    • There is evidence of extensive failure of the inclined web of the box girder at the support. How did this come about?

  20. bally (unregistered) on September 19th, 2007 @ 4:19 am

    Karachi bridge collapse: CWP demands judicial enquiry F.P. Report

    Lahore: Consumer Watch Pakistan (CWP) has demanded judicial enquiry into the collapse of Sher Shah Bridge of Karachi Northern bypass. The bridge was collapsed on September 1, when a 70 meter long Baldia loop of Sher Shah Bridge buckled suddenly before giving any warning. The initial cause of the incident was stated to be the collapse of 120 meters long box girder whose design was controversial but was approved by foreign consultants. The collapse resulted in death of 6 persons, injuring several others and damages to many vehicles. Shamim Sadiqui, Federal Minister for Communication, announced on the day of incident, that an enquiry committee is being constituted which would submit the report within two weeks but no such report has been released yet. This clearly shows that government authorities are not sincere in ascertaining the actual cause of the incident and fixing the responsibility of the collapse of bridge that was commissioned only 3 weeks ago. Its collapse has raised serious questions on the capacity of Engineering Consultants International Limited (ECIL) and National Logistic Cell (NLC) to design and execute such mega projects. Under the circumstances, CWP has appealed the government to enquire the matter through an enquiry committee consisting of the Judges of Sind High Court. The collapse of Karachi Bridge sums up the state of road safety in Pakistan. The incidents also comments over the quality of work which Pakistani firms are producing in road projects. There are hundreds of roads which are built at the cost of heavy public exchequer but are washed away in first rain. The actual cause of these incidents lies in the culture of corruption which has engulfed our engineering departments. Due to heavy kickbacks, commissions and bribes involved, the contractors are left with a little money to execute the projects according to the specifications. Every contract document carries a commitment from the contractor that the structure will remain intact for a specific period. Had this clause of contracts been operationalized in letter and spirit, Pakistan’s engineering sector would have been purged of black sheep. But the examples of actual enquiries and punishment to the contractors are only few and far between. There is a need to make the Karachi bridge incident and subsequent enquiry as a benchmark in Pakistan’s engineering history and culprits should be punished irrespective of their status. Many objections are being raised against the design of the project. The design of the project may be faulty but substantial attention should also be diverted towards the quality of work and quality of material used. CWP demands immediate judicial enquiry in the incident and company responsible for this criminal negligence should be black-listed forthwith. Until the judicial enquiry is finalized, the personnel of both the companies, who have managed the project, should be kept on Exit Control List (ECL) so that important proof and information should not go wasted. The cost of damages and compensations to deceased and injured should be paid by the company found responsible for the failure of the structure. Moreover, work on all the projects in Pakistan being handled by NLC and ECIL should be stopped and a third party review should be made before the initiation of work on those projects.

  21. Bally (unregistered) on September 20th, 2007 @ 3:06 am

    Authorities trying to sabotage probe

    KARACHI (NNI): Expressing displeasure over “Sher Shah Bridge” investigation, the relatives of the “Northern Bypass Bridge Collapse” victims have demanded President General Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take strict action against the authorities trying to sabotage the Sher Shah bridge collapse investigation. Talking to this scribe on Saturday, the relatives of the bridge collapse victims observed that the Sher Shah bridge collapse is a striking example of inaction on the part of Professor Shamim Siddiqui, the Federal Minister for Communications, who is also the Chairman of the National Highway Council, Tariq Mahmood, Federal Secretary, Communications, Major General Imtiaz Ahmad, Chairman, National Highway Authority and the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Cell, Lt. General (Retd) Farooq Ahmad who have spoiled the investigation of this grave and heinous crime. A colossal engineering failure, the first in the history of Pakistan, occurred on September 01, 2007 when a newly constructed bridge of the National Highway Authority at Northern Bypass Karachi, collapsed killing, scores of people at the spot, and injuring many, including three under-training police constables. The bridge was inaugurated by President General Pervez Musharraf on August 6, 2007. Karachi’s Northern Bypass project takes off from the ICI Bridge and traverses through Mauripur Road, SITE Road and RCD Highway and the collapsed bridge is the second of the two flyovers of this 62.15-km project. While talking to this scribe, the angry residents remarked that no significant action against the responsible for mishap has been taken as yet . The lower staff is being made scapegoats. They too have been suspended temporarily until the whole issue calms down. They pointed out that Major General (Retd) Farrukh Javed, the former Chairman NHA, Colonel (Retd) Aziz-ul-Haq Mirza, the Former Member Operations NHA, Engineer Yousaf Barkazai, Project Director concerned and the NHA General Managers including Colonel Safiullah, Engineer Abdul Haq, Engineer Mobeen Siddiqui, Engineer Asim Amin, Engineer Arshad Chaudhry who remained associated with the Northern Bypass Project, Colonel (Retd) Iqbal, NHA’s full time consultant for bridges, Engineer Zaheer Mirza, Chief Executive of M/s. ECIL and the contractor Major General, Zahid Akhtar, Director General, National Logistic Cell and his Project Manager concerned whose names are clearly mentioned in the execution of the collapsed bridge are still at large and no effort is being made to arrest them and to bring them to justice. They demanded the, Pakistan Engineering Council, to suspend the professional engineering licenses granted to the engineers involved in the execution of the northern bypass project, irrespective to their present status and portfolios, till the final investigations and those found guilty must be booked under section 302 of Pakistan penal code, besides banned and blacklisted forever. The eyewitnesses and residents of Shershah Paracha Chowk suspect an, unholy alliance of industrialists and alleged corrupt National Highway Authority’s officers, M/s. Engineering Consultant International Private Limited (ECIL), M/s. National Logistic Cell (NLC) and the Sub-Contractor to be behind the undue alteration of the bridge design. Angry residents, shopkeepers and their elected representatives of Union Council 4 SITE Town claimed that alteration in the Sher Shah bridge design had been accommodated just to safeguard the interests of industrialists whose factories are situated nearby the bridge. Had it not been altered, some of the important industrial units of the area could have lost their precious land or infrastructure, they alleged. Some locals pointed out that substandard construction material used in the construction of the bridge and faulty design led to the collapse of the bridge. Meanwhile, a senior official of the National Highway Authority, on condition of anonymity for fear of angering the big boys in the Federation of Pakistan has urged the authorities to find out whether the award of Northern Bypass to M/s. National Logistic Cell was on merit or otherwise He urged the authorities to probe into the tendering and pre-qualification process of the Northern Bypass and Lyari Expressway projects. He said, the authorities must check whether M/s. Engineering Consultant International Private Limited (ECIL) had the appropriate experience of designing bridges of such high magnitude or not. He said they need to find out whether the contractor M/s. National Logistics Cell had the relevant experience of making such a big “snake like” bridge or not. He said, they need to check whether the contractor M/s. National Logistic Cell had bridges specialist on board or not. He said, they must check if the bio-data’s of bridge specialists were evaluated, cross-examined by the National Highway Authority or not. They must look into the review of consultant design by the contractor M/s. National Logistic Cell (NLC). Any alteration in the bridge design at a later stage needs to be checked and pointed out. The involvement of consultant, which was exclusively hired for bridges on lucrative terms and conditions, in the National Highway Authority Headoffice need to be seen. Use of substandard construction material in collapsed Sher Shah Bridge also needs a thorough probe, he said. The reasons for ignoring a basic survey conducted by the Sindh Board of Revenue (SBOR) about the land on which the said project was built should also be made public.

  22. bally (unregistered) on September 22nd, 2007 @ 4:48 am

    The Northern Bypass Bridge collapse – what really happened? Separating Facts from Fiction!?
    The Northern Bypass Bridge collapse – what really happened?

    Separating Facts from Fiction!

    It is time we get to the bottom of the real issue which led to the bridge collapse cutting through the propaganda campaign and media noise. We are seeing that a huge amount of disinformation and lies are being propagated in the media to confuse the real issues involved as ordinary public is not aware of the modalities and methods of major civil engineering projects. Here we would like to sharply focus on the facts which are also available in the public domain but have been blurred out by the vested interests involved in deliberate disinformation war. We need to find out who is responsible. Was it a design fault or poor quality of construction? This is the most critical question and demands serious answers.

    When any civil engineering project fails, there are only four possibilities:

    Good Construction but Design fault.

    Good Design but Construction fault.

    Bad design and Bad Construction.

    When the Design is good and also the construction, then the projects are sound and safe. In this case, the only question we need to find out is – what caused the failure? Was it bad design; Was it bad construction or failure of both? A wrong answer to this question would get many innocent prosecuted and would allow the powerful perpetrators of crime to go free. This is where the actual high stake game begins.

    Let us make few simple statements first to make this article easy to understand.

    In any civil engineering project of this scale, there are minimum of three parties involved.

    The Client. In this case it was the National Highway Authority whose job is to award the contracts for designing and construction of the project. NHA awarded to contract to ECIL, Karachi as Consultants and NLC as Contractors.

    The Consultant. In this case it was the ECIL, the Karachi based firm who was responsible for designing the bridge and also act as Construction Managers to assure quality compliance by the Contractors.

    The Contractor: Who is responsible for construction the project as designed by the Consultant. In this case the Contractors were the National Logistic cell, the NLC.

    Once the contract is awarded, what are the responsibilities of Consultant and Contractor? This is a very critical question as it defines the role of responsibilities of both parties and hence allows us to fix the responsibility if anything goes wrong.

    The Consultant is responsible for:

    Designing the Project, its engineering calculations, structure design, elevation, gradient, setting specification for types of steel, cement, concrete and sand. Also, they are responsible for over seeing the project construction, keeping a closest eye on each and every step of the Contractors and issue them “check reports” or no objection certificates at every stage of the project as construction goes on. This contractor cannot move an inch without written “OK reports” by the Consultant. If Consultant is not satisfied with the material quality or quantity or the quality of work by the Contractor, the ok certificate is not issued and payment of the Contractor is withheld by the Client. Once the “OK report” is issued by the Consultant for the job already done, the total responsibility of the work done so far shifts to the Consultant which had given the final approval and certificate. This is very critical to understand. The most critical aspect of the entire project is its design. If the design is faulty, then the entire responsibility lies on the Consultant NOT on the Contractor or the Client.

    The Contractors is responsible for:

    · Constructing the project according to the Design given by the Consultant.

    · Constructing the project according to the material quantity specified by the Consultant.

    · Constructing the project according to the material quality specified by the Consultant.

    If a Contractor does not deviate from the above three critical points, he has done his job honestly and cannot be held responsible for any failures. A Contractor cannot refuse to construct any design given to it by the Consultant nor it can change any specification or parameter on its own. It has to follow the drawings given by the Consultants. Consultant approves the work done by the Contractor and issues quality certificates all the way called “check reports”. If a Contractor has received “Check reports” from the Consultant, the sole responsibility of the work done thus far shifts to the Consultant as Construction managers guaranteeing quality of Construction. This is how it works.

    So when a project fails, any inquiry has to focus on Design faults or Construction Faults. All other issues raised are only side issues and do not answer the fundamental question of who is responsible. An inquiry is must to determine the responsibility.

    What the inquiry Commission does? It does three fundamental studies though it can expand its scope to other side issues as well.

    · An inquiry commission obviously studies the design to see if there were any fundamental design faults in the project. If a design fault is detected, the responsibility lies on the Consultant. In this case it would lie on the ECIL if design fault is detected.

    · The commission would also study records and samples to see if the Contractor deviated from the design, used poor material or used less than specified material. If these findings are normal then the Contractor is not help responsible. In this case, the Contractor is NLC. Else, the fault lies with the Contractor.

    · Inquiry commission also studies the process of Construction Management and quality control by the Consultants during the course of the project. If the Consultants have issued Check Reports or OK reports to the Client and Contractors, which are NHA and NLC in this case, then also the responsibility lies on the Consultant for giving quality control certificates if the project fails in the end.

    Now we come to the bridge collapse and study the facts. There is no doubt that the collapse of the northern bypass bridge in Karachi is indeed a tragic and catastrophic affair. But what is stunning indeed is that even before the inquiry begins, the MQM minister blames NLC and announces its blacklisting!

    The entire media campaign is being orchestrated to rest the blame on NLC and NHA without even mentioning the name of the Consultants, the ECIL! Someone very powerful is indeed trying to protect the well connected Consulting firm which is also responsible for entire Consultation works in earth quake disaster zones in Kashmir as Consultants to ERRA.

    There are reports which suggest that pressure would be brought against the inquiry commission by the vested groups who would be trying to bail out the consultants and if that is not possible they would also try to implicate the NHA / NLC into it as well by putting partial blame — enough to get NLC blacklisted.

    This is a high stake, high risk game as many civil contractors who compete with NLC for government contracts are trying to get NLC blacklisted. The statement of MQM minister is absurd to the limit that they blacklist NLC even before the inquiry begins !! While we fully support am impartial, powerful inquiry, we also do not want real culprits to go free and NLC should not be made scapegoat for corrupt politicians or Mafia lords. Various stake holders mentioned below are already playing their dirty game.

    In the past when similar inquiries of high stake corruption were done, assassinations also took place to send signals to concerned quarters. The murder of PSO chairman Munsif Raza and MD KESC are examples in case. The business competition, anger against army, trying to protect their own kind in civil engineering community and MQM’s own attempts to shift the entire blame on NLC will not make it easy for an impartial inquiry under present circumstances.

    Also, it should also be noted that as to why the design of the bridge was changed when a factory came in its way and took stay from the court. The factory owner, his details, contacts with MQM, and his ability to get the design changed should also be considered. This is critical as last minute changes in design lead to serious engineering complications. Why the city government did not get the stay vacated, why the hurry to finish the bridge that they did not waste time in legal proceedings to vacate the stay and went for alternate design which was risky ? was it their attempt to get the project completed in undue haste to take the credit for their achievements or was it to get the lucrative contract where commissions and kickbacks make good money? Why the MQM is trying to protect the Consultants ECIL and blacklist the Contractor, NLC even without the inquiry?? In order to avoid all these issue, the MOM lead ministers are finding a simple solution of blacklisting military led NLC instead. This is farcical.

    These are known facts that this bridge had major design faults and NOT construction faults. There are dozen of check reports issued by ECIL to NLC all along the course of the project taking responsibility for the quality of work and material. But instead, major design faults were detected when first Girder was built. It was the opinion of NLC that this Girder had design faults and should be demolished. But the Consultants brought in foreign Consultants to fix the problem instead of a re-design. The NLC had no say in the new repair ideas floated by the Consultants. NHA allowed ECIL to get the bridge repaired at its own cost and did not put any penalty on the NLC. Massive weight was added to the initial design which weakened the supporting pillars. In the end, even speed breakers were added on the bridge by the Consultants to slow the traffic which further increased weight on the under designed pillars!! It is most obvious that the Consultants kept on trying to repair a faulty design through various damage control methods instead of approving demolishing the first Girder to save their own reputation, which ultimately caused this catastrophic tragedy. Now they are also orchestrating a media campaign to rest the entire blame on the NLC and NHA. The entire documentation and paper work as well as correspondence of the project are available in public domain and should be carefully observed by the inquiry team.

    Also, there are reports that all other bridges made during the MQM tenure are engineering disasters with similar design issues as in this case. There are traffic jams on many flyover bridges due to poor designs which increase the weight and shake the bridges violently or they cause major accidents when traffic from these bridges merges with the main roads. Flyover designs are not meant for huge traffic jams but for smooth flow of traffic. Installing traffic lights or speed breakers to merge the traffic into main roads or distribute the load on bridge pillars are engineering design disasters not construction faults. Many other Karachi bridges show similar design disasters. It would be interesting to collect data on all projects and to survey design faults on other “mega “projects under taken in the last few years by the MQM government else I am afraid we will be cleaning ruble from many other places in near future.

    This should also be noted that this is a high risk, high stake environment in which multiple forces would be operating to implicate NHA, FWO, and NLC for various reasons. The present political environment in the country has given another opportunity to the political opposition to increase their pressure on army related organizations irrespective of who is at fault. The major players whose prime interest is in implicating FWO / NHA / NLC and who are pitched against the army are:

    The Consultants. ECIL in this case. Their interest is obvious. Unless they implicate the contactors, they themselves would be nailed. They would use all their clout to try to either rest the blame totally on the NLC or at least share the burden with the contractor to reduce their own liability.

    The Competing Contractors who want to push NLC out of the business in this lucrative market. This is a multi billion rupees high stake market where absence of one powerful contractor would tremendously benefit the remaining players.

    The MQM who is seriously embarrassed over the disaster as Minister as well as city and Sindh government belongs to them and they have to find a scapegoat to rest the blame on. Their statements have already implicated the NLC, even before the inquiry began!

    Anti-army local political elements who want to draw political mileage out of this disaster to implicate army run organizations like NHA, NLC and FWO.

    Foreign players especially Indians who are taking keen interest in the crisis and putting the blame on the army and trying to exploit the prevalent anti-army environment in the country to further their anti-Pakistan agenda. The recent launch of the book Military Inc: is also a similar attempt by Indian and foreign players to tarnish army’s image by ridiculing their corporate ventures. The bridge collapse also gives ammo to their campaign.

    Unscrupulous local Media who would be looking for hot stories and would implicate all especially armed forces without mercy as in the present environment media is acting as Judge, jury and the executioners in almost all matters of national importance.

    It should be the top most responsibility of the government to assure transparent and swift inquiry to bring the guilty to book and to prevent any vested interests from shifting the blame on innocents by pulling powerful strings or maneuvering the media information. It is not going to be easy considering the stakes involved for the perpetrators but then this is where the challenge is.

  23. Amin (unregistered) on September 22nd, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

    Need more?

    Agreed, but why the builder? They submitted their designs along with material to be used, which was duly aproved by the Federal and Provincial government, and if I may say so, the Chief Minister is neither, “Mahajir” nor part of MQM.

    First of all, exemplary punishment should be given to the builders. Secondly its not the national Highways Authority who built this flyover, but its the MQM backed firm (ECIL) ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS INTERNATIONAL(pvt) LIMITED, owned by Zaheer Mirza, who constructed this flyover.

    ECIL, backed by MQM, did you dream that one up, or just biased against an ethnic minority of Pakistan?

    You seem to know more about MQM or where the party head lives, eat, drinks, than probably Zaheer Mirza.

    Give the devil the due, today, Karachi has all the infrastructure of a developed city.
    If MQM is evil in one corner, it’s moving us towards progress in the next corner, and they keep Ganja and BB shut when need be. The contractors, who flawed with the design and material, who showed callousness, was not ECIL, but rather… (lets not go there now).

    I’m grateful to the MQM, for developing my city, which neither previous government ever bothered.
    Today, if there is a developed city, at par with any other, in the entire South East Asia, it’s Karachi, eat your heart out!

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