Following the heavy monsoon rains last year, infrastructure in Balochistan — among many other sectors like agriculture and livestock — sustained serious damages, leaving many a dam breached that led to flooding in adjacent areas. Apart from dams, flooding in the Hub River washed away one of the essential bridges connecting the province with Sindh.
The bridge had already exhausted its scheduled life, having been built in 1972 with a planned span of 20 years, meaning 1992. Over the last 30 years, it was functional with gradually increasing uncertainty. About six months after its inevitable collapse last year, the National Highway Authority (NHA) started the construction of a temporary muddy passage across the Hub river to facilitate the flow of traffic.
The first spell of rain this year in April exposed the fragility of the arrangement, with the mud-plastered route unable to sustain even a low-level flood following the rains in Hub and surrounding areas. This was merely because of the poor design, and the use of substandard material that was not sufficient to make it worthwhile.
Moreover, following the rains, the local authorities rushed to close the route for the daily commute, leaving the residents of the city in a quandary. However, the risk involved in the matter was understandable, as can be seen in the accompanying photograph above. The irony is that despite the risk, the route has been opened not only for the commuters, but also for both heavy and light traffic. This has only increased the risk manifold, as the path can cave in any time under the constant load of heavy traffic.
Furthermore, the recent flooding in the river has hampered the construction work that is being carried out by the National Logistic Cell (NLC), which has been given the contract of building a new bridge. By the looks of it, rains and floods caused by climate change will affect the pace of work repeatedly, and it may take several years for the project to get completed.
The NHA should ramp up the repair work of the mud-plastered route, and the relevant authorities need to ban the movement of heavy traffic to give the route some realistic chance to survive till the construction work is completed.