LAHORE: Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has started placing manhole covers made of fiberglass to stop their theft and save precious lives in the provincial capital.
The new fiberglass manhole covers are of zero scrap value, said Wasa Managing Director Syed Zahid Aziz while chairing a meeting at his office on Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by all Wasa directors. The Wasa managing director said that when he was Faisalabad Water and Sanitation Agency managing director, he had introduced fiberglass manhole covers, and for the last five years not a single fiberglass manhole cover in Faisalabad had been stolen.
The meeting was called to officer condolence on the death of a minor by falling in an open manhole at Tajpura as well as to fix responsibility on the Water and Sanitation Agency officials concerned. The Wasa managing director warned all the directors of strict action in case similar incident occurred in their jurisdictions in future.
He directed all the directors to monitor their areas and bound every XEN and SDO to sign a daily report regarding missing manhole covers in their areas. He told the meeting that the project of new fiberglass manhole covers was funded by World Bank, which appreciated Water and Sanitation Agency for the innovative solution to save precious human lives in the provincial metropolis.
World Bank provides funds for the project under the Punjab Cities Governance Maintenance Project, the MD said. “A single manhole cover with frame is a heavy weight iron material and can be sold for thousands of rupees.
Usually, drug addicts and small thieves steal manhole covers with their frames and sell them to scrap dealers at the rate of iron,” he said adding, “Theft of manhole covers is an international phenomenon and the practice can be witnessed in several mega cities such as Chicago, Mumbai, etc.”
While talking with The News after the meeting, the Wsas managing director said that the only solution to theft of manhole covers was its replacement with a zero scrap value item, and many modern cities have adopted various innovations in this regard. Wasa has imported around 2,000 sets (manhole covers with frames), which will be placed where the covers are missing.
“Fiberglass manhole covers are fully traffic rated and can easily bear 40 tonne weight vehicle,” the Water and Sanitation Agency managing director claimed, adding these covers were also maintenance-free and were fully adjustable with the atmosphere of the city.
He maintained that replacement of cast iron manhole covers with fiberglass covers would also help reduce accidents on roads, which occurred due to open manholes. He said the fiberglass manhole covers were lighter and easier for the utility workers to move and place.
Zahid Aziz claimed that many sewer and wastewater systems were highly corrosive while fiberglass manhole covers and frames were perfect for the most corrosive settings found throughout the municipal and industrial settings.
“Sulphide-rich effluents along with a warm, humid atmosphere and long retention times create ideal conditions for microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC). MIC destroys typical sewer infrastructure but not fiberglass manholes,” he revealed.
He said Water and Sanitation Agency was installing SCADA system in the city and fiberglass manhole covers were an ideal fit for AMR systems, SCADA, telemetry, level monitoring, samplers, flow meters and other data acquisition devices.
“The minimum lifespan of a quality fiberglass manhole is more than 30 years while a typical cast iron manhole system might require significant maintenance or replacement costs over that same period of time,” he said.
He said the fiberglass manhole covers were better for non-conductive applications and might reduce accidents of electrocution in rain. He concluded that cast iron manholes could interfere or block radio signal transmission, which was used during desilting of large sewer lines, whereas, the fiberglass manhole covers offer little interference with radio frequency signals.