Substandard Construction Raises Safety Concerns on Chitral-Shandur Road

Chitral Shandur road

CHITRAL: The construction of the Chitral-Booni Shandor road, which has been ongoing for four years under the National Highway Authority’s (NHA) supervision, is now under scrutiny for its poor quality. The project, costing billions, has seen significant delays and now, concerns over safety as retaining walls along the route begin to crumble before the project’s completion. This issue was brought to light by the Chitral Development Moment (CDM), a local advocacy group focused on road safety, after an inspection of the construction site.

The construction contract, awarded to Umar John & Company, was found to have been sub-contracted to smaller entities, resulting in compromised construction standards. Investigations revealed that the retaining walls, essential for the road’s stability, were constructed on unstable, sandy ground without adequate foundational support. Additionally, the quality of materials used was called into question, with evidence suggesting a lack of sufficient cement, leading to the walls’ deterioration and collapse without any natural disasters prompting them.

Community members, including prominent local figures and passers-by, expressed their dismay at the poor construction standards, highlighting the potential dangers on a road frequented by thousands daily. They pointed out the absence of basic construction principles, such as adequate foundational support and proper curing of cement, leading to the walls’ failure.

Further concerns were raised about the oversight of the project. It was disclosed that Irfan-ul-Haq, the NESPAK Consultant Resident Engineer responsible for quality checks, had not visited the site, with complaints to the NHA project director meeting dismissive responses. Efforts to reach NHA and NESPAK officials for comments were unsuccessful.

Calls for a judicial inquiry have been made by Advocate Syed Burhan Shah, CDM members and concerned citizens, urging the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Prime Minister, and relevant authorities to ensure the road meets safety standards. The community demands rectification of the current substandard work to prevent future hazards, especially under the strain of heavy traffic, underscoring the critical need for adherence to construction standards and specifications.


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