Poor maintenance blamed for deadly Calcutta bridge collapse

Up to 20 people were feared trapped under the debris. (Courtesy Twitter)
Updated 05 September 2018
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Poor maintenance blamed for deadly Calcutta bridge collapse

  • Dramatic footage captured on a security camera shows how a busy Calcutta street turned into carnage
  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the first priority was to rescue the injured and those who were trapped

DUBAI: Poor maintenance has been blamed for a bridge collapse that has killed at least five people in south Calcutta, in the state of West Bengal in eastern India.
Images of the Majerhat road bridge show a broken section of the 40-year old highway that appears to be roughly 30 meters long.
Speaking to the Arab News, a Calcutta resident who did not wish to be identified said: “There is total pandemonium in the area with distraught bystanders present and rescue teams trying to manage the situation. This is hampering rescue operations.”
He added that the death toll was expected to rise, as rescue workers struggled to rescue any survivors.
“There is speculation that the maintenance work on many bridges in the city of Calcutta has not been regular,” he added. “The onus falls on the authorities. The Majerhat bridge is a case in point. The volume of heavy and light traffic over the bridge has increased over the years since it connects two parts of the city. This traffic has not been regulated or controlled. The number of cars plying over it has obviously increased and thousands commute daily over the bridge.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the first priority was to rescue the injured and those who were trapped, according to a Press Trust of India report.
The bridge, that collapsed at around midday on Tuesday, was built in the late 70s, according to Calcutta resident Jason Pote.
“At that time, the area was not developed since the city had not witnessed the construction and residential boom then. This bridge was built for low-volume traffic. The gradual increase in traffic occurred with the construction of a free port area nearby. Port containers and other heavy cargo then began to move across this bridge at nights to be offloaded at other parts of the city. The lack of maintenance therefore made it an accident waiting to happen.”
Pote added that the crash “would affect a lot of people. The Majerhat bridge and a parallel bridge, the Durgapur Bridge, carry people from the developed areas to the central business districts of Calcutta.
“People will now find it tough to reach their destinations. There are very little options. The local police will be under pressure to regulate alternative traffic routes in a city which is renowned for traffic jams.
“There are six schools on the main road itself. So, from 8 a.m. - 8.30 a.m. there will be mayhem since it is school times. Each school has probably around 2,000 students and this is a conservative number. This means 10,000 passengers travelling daily in over 2,500-3,000 vehicles looking for alternative routes which will be affected.”
Arab News tried to contact Derek O’Brien, a member of Parliament and spokesman for the All-India Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in West Bengal, but was unable to get a comment.


South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

Updated 20 min 58 sec ago
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South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

  • The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest
  • The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea

JUBA: South Sudan is planning to construct a new state capital in a central location in what was a wildlife park, a move that officials say will make the seat of government more accessible to the people, the government said on Wednesday.
“We’re not supposed to have our capital near the borders. The capital is the center of everything and it needs to be easy for everyone to come,” government spokesman Michael Makuei told The Associated Press.
The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest. The land is currently uninhabited and lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity.
The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea. Morrocan and Korean engineers will visit the site this week to begin demarcating areas for roads, utilities, markets, residential areas and key government installations.
Plans to move the capital from Juba, where it is now, to the new city have been in the works since before South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, said the government. Morocco’s decision to contribute to the project was discussed during King Mohammed VI’s trip to the war-torn nation in February, 2017.
The executive branch will move to Ramciel, while Juba will remain South Sudan’s commercial center as well as either the judicial or legislative hub, he said.
Five years of civil war have devastated South Sudan, killing almost 400,000 people and displacing millions. The power sharing agreement signed by warring parties in September is the latest attempt at peace, although implementation of the accord has been fraught with delays and there has been continued fighting in parts of the country.
At least one South Sudan analyst says the move to the new capital should not be a priority.
“Roads, health, education, economy and a stabilization agenda should top the list,” Augustino Ting Mayai, a researcher at the Sudd Institute in Juba.