Gul Hamaad Farooqi
CHITRAL: A civil society organization has pointed out substandard and poor quality work on the ongoing construction of the Chitral-Booni road and called upon higher authorities to take notice of the issue.
Members of Chitral Development Movement (CDM) visited the under-construction road and found that its retaining walls were being constructed with substandard material. In these walls, small stones and debris were seen concealed beneath the layer of cement. The sand used in it was also very poor and mixed with soil.
Moreover, the protection wall that has been built required pouring of water on it twice daily for seven days, but due to negligence the wall is wearing out days after its construction.
The contract of the road was given to Umar Jan & Company, but it was observed that the contract had been sublet to another PT contractor that had employed inexperienced workers from Ashiret and Arandu.
The CDM members also alleged that Nespak (National Engineering Service Pakistan) resident engineer was responsible for examining the quality of the construction work, but he never inspected the road. Now it is learnt that the Nespak official has retired from service with a replacement so far.
This scribe talked to a senior engineer about the work and he said on condition of anonymity that there were lots of faults in the work. One of the major faults is that before putting concrete you have to put a small stone from one to two inches under the iron rod so that when the concrete is poured into it the concrete goes underneath the iron rods. Besides, the iron rods should be placed at a distance of six inches and given water for 10 days. But the contractor on the Chitral-Booni road has used iron with a gap of 14 inches which has started to break the rope of the bridge as these were not given water.
During the CDM team’s road tour, it was also observed that in some places the protection walls had begun breaking due to lack of water.
There is a natural fountain on the road where people of the area have set up 15 temporary shops. The contractor is also destroying the water of the natural fountain by building an eight-foot-high protection wall at the same place.
“We have repeatedly requested the NHA officials and the contractor to build a wall of only two and a half feet high to prevent the fountain from being destroyed,” said Sharif Hussein, chairman of the Koghuzi union council.
The contractor was also digging a 10 to 20 feet tunnel in the mountain to fill it with explosives for blasting. This can causes cracks in the mountain and lead to a calamity, said the CDM members.
Chitral is located in the seismic Red Zone and at any time a high intensity earthquake can occur or due to rain and snow the cracks can cause massive casualties by rock-falls on passengers.
It was also observed that after the contractor illegally demolished the mountain, millions of tonnes of debris and large stones/boulders were being thrown into the river. Some of these stones were carried by the river to the Singoor village where the river Mastuj and Lotkoh meet at a junction. Due to the flood, these large stones stopped the flow of the Lotkoh river. The water then entered the one megawatt power house of Wapda in Singoor and damaged it last month.
The CDM members also met Deputy Commissioner of Upper Chitral Mohammad Khalid Zaman in his office and shared with him their grievances about substandard quality of work on Booni road. The deputy commissioner expressed disappointment over the ongoing work and assured them that he would convey the complaints to the NHA officials through the provincial government.