Morbi bridge: 3,165 tickets issued on day of bridge collapse
The probe into the Morbi bridge collapse in Gujarat last month has found significant lapses on the part of Oreva Group and the local municipality, reported NDTV. A government lawyer submitted before a district court that massive flaws in the renovation and management post-reopening by Oreva Group were found. Oreva Group had reportedly issued a whopping 3,165 tickets on the day the bridge collapsed.
Why does this story matter?
- The bridge, owned by the Morbi municipality and maintained by Oreva Group—a wall clock and e-bike manufacturer—collapsed four days after being reopened, raising questions.
- The bridge was supposed to remain closed for maintenance for 8-12 months but was prematurely reopened on October 26 (Gujarati new year) without requisite permissions.
- Weeks after blaming Oreva Group, the municipality took the responsibility for the tragedy last week.
What did government lawyer reveal before court?
Presenting a forensic probe report, district-level government pleader Vijay Jani told the court Oreva Group failed to correctly assess the 143-year-old bridge's load-bearing capability, while issuing 3,165 tickets on October 30, NDTV reported. The bridge's cables were rusty, anchors were cracked, and bolts joining cables and anchors were loose. Preliminary investigations revealed the existing cables couldn't support the weight of the new, heavier flooring.
Negligence by contracting company Oreva Group
The government counsel submitted before the court that the guards and ticket collectors employed by Oreva Group at the bridge were daily laborers with little experience in crowd management. However, the guards were neither trained in safety protocols nor told how many people could be permitted on the bridge, per the forensic report. Despite lapses, no one from Oreva's top management has been arrested.
No lifeguards, boats kept to save people
"Oreva was responsible for security but they didn't even keep any lifeguards or boats to save people in case of an accident," NDTV quoted district-level government pleader Jani as saying.
Civic body took responsibility last week
Last week, the Morbi Municipal Corporation reportedly admitted the suspension bridge collapsed due to irresponsibility on its part. The civic body, in an affidavit before the Gujarat High Court, which has taken suo moto cognizance of the matter, stated that the bridge "should not have been opened." The bridge collapsed on October 30, killing at least 135 people besides injuring hundreds of others.
The HC came down heavily on the municipality last week, noting no tender was issued for awarding the renovation/maintenance contract. It questioned on what basis Oreva was allowed to maintain the bridge when the previous 2008 contract for nine years wasn't renewed after 2017. A renovation contract was again signed with Oreva in March 2022, saying the bridge cannot be reopened before 8-12 months.
Nine staffers of company arrested so far
Earlier, a police case was registered over the major tragedy in Gujarat's Morbi. As part of the investigation, till now, nine staffers of Oreva Group have been arrested while top management who signed the Rs. 7 crore contract have not faced any action. Having a bearing capacity of around 125 people, the bridge had 400-500 people on it at the time of the collapse.