Ayub Bridge: A Living Example of Magnificent Structure in Sukkur, Sindh

Ayub Bridge (Urdu: ایوب پل ‎), named after the Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan (President of Pakistan), is a famous railway bridge over the Indus river between the cities of Rohri and Sukkur in Sindh province, Pakistan. The bridge is over 806 ft long, 247 ft high and cost Rs 21.6 million. Ayub Bridge can be really announced as one of the prides of Sukkur. It has facilitated the city for fifty years by giving a powerful link for rail traffic between the cities of Sukkur and Rohri. Before this, Lansdowne Bridge was the railway link between Sukkur and Rohri. The foundation stone of this steel arch bridge was laid on the day of 9 December 1960 and launched by President Muhammad Ayub Khan on the day of 6 May 1962. The consulting engineer was David B. Steinman. The Ayub Bridge became the world’s 3rd longest railway arch span and the 1st railway bridge in the world to be slung on coiled wire rope suspenders.

History of Ayub Bridge

Before the bridges, the transport between the places of Sukkur and Rohri was by boats and steamers. Boatman Mir Muhammad Alias Miroo recalled how his father Yar Mohammad utilized to run a minor service between Sukkur and Rohri till the early 60s. Some individuals used to cross the River Indus by Lansdowne Bridge on bicycle. The train used to run in the center of the bridge and pedestrians and cyclists utilized the wooden walkways at both sides.

The fare or charges for a single adult passenger was one Anna (0.06 PKR) back in the day. They charged half for a child. Construction of Ayub Bridge initiated on the day of November 26, 1959 and its foundation stone was laid on the day of December 9, 1960 by the then minister of railways and communication, Khan FM Khan, Khan of Shewa. The contractor of the bridge was M/S Dorman Long Gammon of London, famous for Sydney Harbour Bridge in the year of 1932. The consulting engineer was DB Steinman of New York – the man who rebuilt the popular Brooklyn Bridge in the city of New York. Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan launched the bridge on the Sunday 6 May 1962.

Construction work

The rationale behind construction of this arc bridge over the Indus is rocks in the river bed which don’t permit the pillars to withstand the continual flow and pressure of water for a long time. The construction time of Ayub Bridge was interesting as first of all 44 huge cemented abutments, 2 on each side of the river banks, were made. These abutments have to bear weight of the arc. In arc bridges, construction work has to begin simultaneously from both sides of the river.

Hence, 2 half arches supporting the deck with cables were constructed which were joined as one, to the amusement of the people witnessing the activity. The engineer would climb up the arcs via a ladder every day to physically monitor the strength of hundreds of rivets used in the bridge. Rivet is a metal pin utilized for fastening 2 pieces of metal together. It was a terrible sight not just for us but also for others watching, with the mighty Indus flowing beneath.

Ayub Bridge is a beautiful living example of a magnificent structure constructed with the joint attempts of engineers of Dorman Long and Company and the Pakistan Railways. It also depicts the passion and sincerity of the people at the helm of affairs of Railways at that time period to bring over tangible improvements in the transportation systems of country.

When the great steel Ayub arch was built (1960–1962), railway traffic was moved from Lansdowne Bridge to it. Over a hundred ft apart, the 2 bridges appear like one from a distance. The Ayub arch became the world’s 3rd longest railway arch span and the 1st bridge in the world to have “the railway desk slung on coiled wire rope suspenders.”




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