Recently, news reports said that a steel bridge under construction over the Bishnumati River of the capital had collapsed. The structure broke before it came into operation and luckily no casualties happened. A few workers were reported to have been injured. If things are not deliberately covered up, the injured ones were out of danger. Had the new bridge been a little bit stronger, it would have a chance come into operation and would have killed a number of people as such structures give way during crowded and rush hours.
There are wooden, bamboo, rope and vine bridges in rural areas made in rough and ready manner by very unskilled hands. They have served the purpose of crossing roaring rivers in precipitous slopes and cliffs. They don’t break. But miraculously, a bridge built by people with modern engineering skills with the use of reliably strong material as steel collapses even before being inaugurated for service. This shows how manner of working is different in the city from that at community level in the far flung areas. Involvement of unskilled technical experts or the motive to build faster with less cost may be the reason of this bridge collapse.
Corruption is the crux of the problem. Today’s builders are building unholy nexus with politicians and engineers to easily get away by building risky infrastructure. Naturally those who pledge to carry out the construction in the lowest cost gets the chance in the bidding process. Least capable contractors make such claims. What often happens is that contractors are allowed works through connection to higher places without checking their track record of performance. The cheapest contractors perform worst and make longest delays. As they lack sufficient skills, work force and expertise, they build faulty structures as well as take too long in completing the project they are entrusted with.
The collapse of the under-construction bridge over the Bishnumati is not the first case of its kind. News of such construction failures come in the news time and again but we hardly hear of fitting punitive actions taken against concerned contractors and engineers. When the above mentioned bridge in the capital collapsed, it was not clear who was building it. Even the local ward officials of the metropolitan city office were unaware about it. This explains how haphazardly development works are being carried out. Later, it was learnt that the Department of Roads was constructing the faulty bridge. Again, it is hard to hear what action the erring builder or engineer faced.
Faulty and risky structures are everywhere in the capital city. On my way to office, I have to cross the suspension bridge over the Bishnumati River connecting Lakhatirtha Marg and Pushpa Lal Path. The bridge had lost many parts and had holes where people could easily fall and get trapped. The bridge is being mended now but the risky holes and creaking slabs have not been replaced. On the footpath, iron roads are sticking out at many places where passersby are prone to get caught, stumble and fall. Traps and snares are more aplenty during the monsoon time when passersby run the risk of being swallowed by flood water racing down huge sewer pipes.