“It was designed using a very high factor of safety, on the assumption that it would stand the weight of a row of fully armoured tanks standing still on the bridge for at least an hour!”
Prof. Sam’an explained in one of his structural design lectures back in the good old days in Baghdad University.
“Now we stopped using the BS code (British standards) and moved on to follow the ACI code (American concrete institute) which adapts a much lower safety factor and consequently is more cost effective.”
No wonder why I insisted as a child to cross the Sarrafiyah to the other side of the river rather than any other Bridge. Something in its huge concrete pillars and its overlapping steel bars brought confidence and security.
My late Uncle used to tell me stories of diving competitions back in the fifties which he personally participated in, in an effort to convince me to swim in deep waters.
Stories which I was never able to verify as my mother denied them completely.
But yet they are still engraved in my memory.
I remember sticking my head out of the car window every time we cross and wish a train would pass along the abandoned railway track by the side of the bridge. Freight trains used to cross I was told; but I never saw one. I hope this is not an imaginary thought as I couldn’t see any tracks on the pictures of its partial collapse today.
I came across many Sarrafiyah style bridges in Britain especially in small villages in the country side and it always made me feel nostalgic and sometimes proud.
But they were never like our Sarrafiyah which towers the river Tigris and with the effect of the everlasting sunshine reflects the palm trees line along the bank on the water surface.
Just over the weekend I watched a series of interviews with ex-Iraqi Army top commanders testifying on what had happened to their troops during March 2003.
One of them said “All the measurements we took before the war to conceal our arms and tanks in camouflaged warehouses were in vain. Everything was bombed in the first few days of the war. The jet fighters have density sensitive sensors which helped aiming at the correct targets. ”
I am fed up with the blame game, but any reasonable judgment has to raise the question of how the most advanced and hi-tech army in the world is failing miserably to detect where these tons of bombs are coming from or at least where they are stored!
Nothing left in our Baghdad. The evil Goddess demands more and more; too many sacrifices were given but the Goddess is still not satisfied. We tried human beings to protect our heritage and failed, we left our houses and our areas and it did not work either.
No factor of safety seems to work; not British and certainly not American. Whatever we were taught seems useless and laughable.
If we only knew then maybe we would have established a new code and call it IABC (Iraqi anti-bombs code)! I wish...