ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Railways has decided to shut down a 150-year-old bridge near Transit Camp after a monthly survey conducted by the officials concerned declared the bridge “dangerous” for all types of traffic owing to years of negligence.

The decision taken by the railways authorities came after a portion of a protective wall on the bridge was found damaged. The authorities accused the district administration and the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) of negligence and said they failed to repair the road despite repeated requests.

The bridge connecting the city and cantonment areas of Rawalpindi is used by commuters coming from I.J. Principal Road, Peshawar Road and other routes and its closure has resulted in tailbacks on Ganjmandi Road, City Saddar Road and Gawalmandi.

The railways officials claimed that letters were written to Deputy Commissioner Tahir Farooq and RCB President Brigadier Salman Nazar to repair the road but no positive response was received.

Official claims civic bodies repeatedly ignored railways’ requests for repair

“The Pakistan Railways decided to close the bridge permanently for light and heavy traffic as the district administration and the cantonment board had failed to take responsibility for the repair and maintenance of the road,” said Pakistan Railways Rawalpindi Divisional Superintendent Inamullah while talking to Dawn.

The bridge in its current condition posed a danger to the main railway track connecting Rawalpindi with Peshawar, he said, adding that, “vibrations were observed in the bridge as it has not been repaired in over a decade.”

He said the railways contacted the civic bodies to repair the bridge as it was being used by the general traffic but in the absence of a response, the authorities decided to approach the federal government for help.

He said the railways was not responsible for the maintenance of the bridge and added letters seeking the repair of the bridge over the past two years remained unanswered.

Mr Inamullah claimed the bridge was meant for light traffic only but heavy traffic had also been plying on it, adding that trucks pay toll tax at Bakery Chowk before using the bridge to enter the city areas.

On the other hand, Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) refused to repair the bridge, saying that it was the responsibility of the Pakistan Railways to maintain the bridge. Similarly, a senior official of the district administration told Dawn that the Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation (RMC) chalked out a plan to repair over 40 roads in the city but it did not include the repair of this bridge.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2022

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