ISLAMABAD: The urban and rural divide is increasing with the passage of time. The major divide is not just about civic amenities but also about the missing infrastructure like roads and bridges.
Over seven to eight people lose their lives every year in rural part of the country because of absence of bridges, according to data gathered by Dawn from the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration.
The locals have to cross water channels and storm Nullahs in their vehicles or on foot from makeshift or temporary muddy tracks.
“We are short of 52 bridges in rural areas, which since their development may need millions of rupees and we have no funding,” said an ICT administration official not willing to share his name.
“The demand for such bridges is on the rise since the population of these rural areas is also increasing besides locals are not just facing difficulties in crossing these muddy tracks, with fear they might lose their lives,” observed the official.
Islamabad’s rural population according to recent data of the ICT administration has crossed over 800,000 and compared to their compatriots in the city, they lack proper roads and other infrastructure.
Regarding the missing bridge and crossing at Korang Nullah, the official said that development work of a single bridge cost the government over Rs150 million but the government had to release funds from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
“But there is already a cut on the PSDP funded projects and such a big project may not see any nod from the government in the near future because of financial crunch faced by the federal government,” said one official of the Interior Ministry which also manages the ICT administration.
The deputy commissioner of the ICT, Amir Ali Ahmed when asked to comment on such a big number of missing bridges from the rural areas of the city and his administration’s slackness to address the concerns of the locals, he said: “We have already opted for a feasibility study of 52 bridges and the federal government has released over Rs20 million it.”
Once the study is complete, he said, a PC-I would be sent to the government and hopefully “We will get some funding to complete few important bridges in the rural parts of the city.”
Commenting over the areas where these bridges are required on urgent basis in the rural areas of the city, he said: “These bridges are required in the downstream areas of Korang Stream and Sohan River.”
Mr Ahmed said that most of the cases of loss of lives were reported in these two downstream areas of the rural part, since sudden floods and rise in water level resulted in deaths of residents of rural areas because adequate crossing was missing at these localities.
He claimed that this year because of lack of rains, the loss of lives is not that high as reported in previous years.