Another bridge in danger
15 November, 2006
The railway bridge linking Karachi with the rest of the country was built on the Indus river between Kotri town and Hyderabad in 1900. By the year 2000, this gigantic masterpiece of human ingenuity and skill had already completed a lifespan of 100 years successfully. The credit for rendering uninterrupted service, of course, solely goes to the basic design and the material used by the planners.
This age-old railway bridge is still used as a one-way railway track. The mettle roads available on both sides connecting Kotri town with Hyderabad are also in full use of vehicular traffic. Because of non-stop heavy traffic and non-maintenance of roads, the bridge remains clogged for hours, especially in the day time. Although these roads are officially prohibited for heavy vehicles, the police allow access to all types of heavy vehicles exposing the fragile bridge to any disaster.
Recently while passing through this bridge, we experienced the worst road block when our vehicle stopped right in the middle for about half an hour. The traffic on our side was passing at a snail’s pace when all of sudden it came to a halt as a heavily laden trawler was stuck ahead of us. This was because roads have been dilapidated with craters, some so large that even waters of Indus can be seen through it.
After the collapse of Ranpathani Bridge, I thought that the railway authorities would adopt necessary preventive measures but having passed through Kotri Bridge, it appears that this bridge has also been written off, probably having outlived its utility.
The Kotri Bridge is the most important link between Karachi and upcountry through railway as well as through the National Highway. Therefore, leaving it at the mercy of circumstances may cause it irreparable damage and, as a consequence, a colossal loss to national economy.
ALTAMASH M. KURESHI