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Letters: Look back to history for Pakistan flood answers

Look back to history for Pakistan answers

The article by Jo Stimpson “Pakistan readies rebuild” (NCE 9 September), indeed brings good news about DFID-funded rebuilding of bridges in the hilly KPK region.

But the reconstruction of the flood devastated irrigation infrastructure, Munda Headwork on the river Swat and the Lower Swat canal from this headwork as reported in NCE (19 August) needs also to be constructed by DFID.

This funding is especially essential in view of the historical fact that this irrigation system was built in 1882 by the British who had conquered this part of the KPK in 1846 and started immediately on the rehabilitation of the disbanded Pukhtoon soldiers.

Now DFID is requested to pay attention to the reconstruction of the headwork and the Lower Swat canal and thus ensure peace in this volatile part neighbouring Afghanistan. The Pukhtoon peasants must also be rehabilitated, not only their bridges.

  • Mohammed Naim Ullah (M), 151 Gladstone Park Gardens, London, NW2 6RN

ICE does not represent the UK

So now it is official. The ICE is an employer’s cartel, not an organisation representing practising civil engineers.

How else could one explain the astonishing statement by Barry Clarke that the ICE’s response to the fact that: “Many graduates are having to turn to other sectors for employment and engineers out of work are unable to continue their professional development” is “we must ensure that the doors remain open to highly specialist engineers from outside the European Economic Union” (NCE 16 September)

In the light of this I believe that practising engineers who would like a body to represent their views have two options.

The first would be to vote for a change in the constitution of the ICE so that directors, who are responsible to their shareholders rather than their fellow engineers, should be ineligible for membership; they can, after all, join the Institute of Directors and do their lobbying from there.

The alternative would be a new organisation representing only practising engineers, which would have the membership limitation outlined above.

Which is it to be? Fellow engineers, you have nothing to lose but your P45s.

  • Roger C Button (M), 4 Beaufort Place, Bath BA1 6RP

Engineers will welcome a cap

I am sure that Barry Clarke’s comments and the ICE report on a proposed immigration cap will be warmly welcomed by the hundreds of UK engineers currently, or about to be, out of work due to the continuing and worsening recession.

How can the country possibly need foreign engineers when it cannot find work for its own?

I would be fascinated to hear what “specialist skills” are, or are likely to be, unobtainable from within this pool of qualified and unemployed UK nationals. It couldn’t be that it is easier and cheaper to employ foreign labour? No, perish the thought.

Look at the present sorry state of the England football team – if we carry on like this the industry will suffer the same fate, and deservedly so.

  • P J Clubbe (M), 19 Ethelda Drive, Newton, CH2 2PH

Existing lines are key for HS2

I refer to the letters that you have received on the routing of High Speed 2 through the southern counties.

The Government has stated that it is “looking at serving Heathrow Airport”. To reach the Midlands the route from Heathrow can follow closely either the M25 or the old disused railways in the Colne Valley to the north and south of Uxbridge, reaching the existing Chiltern line to the east of Denham.

If it then follows the Chiltern line, from the Colne Valley to Ashendon Junction (tunnelling underneath Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield and High Wycombe) it can then follow the disused Great Central line to Rugby.

It does not need all the infrastructure works that a completely new line would require as presently proposed. It would follow, as so many of your correspondents have stated, an existing transport alignment. It does not need to go through virgin countryside as the present proposals indicate.

  • Allan S Carter (M), 34 South Vale, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3PH

Our cars can handle bad roads

The letters on road spending (NCE 9 September) both make valid points. We should invest in long-term, non-luxury projects in all economic conditions. Local routes are critical to communities. On the latter we might consider investing in better foot and cycle ways but patch-repair the road carriageway areas.

Modern vehicles can easily negotiate uneven surfaces at the appropriate speed but more and more we have a need for smooth, easily accessible foot and cycle routes to respond to a widening demand for access for all, for our ageing population and to support our health and low energy agenda.

  • Martin Stockley, managing director, Martin Stockley Associates, 77 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 2HG.

Thames Tunnel is no mere sewer

I was pleased to read in your headline “Thames Tunnel” (NCE last week) and thought for a second that you were reporting on the Thames Tunnel so I was surprised to find that you were reporting on a mere sewer.

We all know that the Thames Tunnel was in fact the first underwater tunnel in the world designed and built by Sir Marc Brunel and on which his son I K Brunel started his illustrious engineering career.

If you like to find out about the Thames Tunnel you can visit the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe. You will discover a glorious story of daring, dogged belief, flair, danger, extravagance and triumph against the odds.

Now Rotherhithe will soon be blessed with three tunnels: the Rotherhithe Tunnel, for cars, the Thames Tunnel for trains and a Thames Tunnel for sewage all within 100 yards of each other.

  • Bryn Bird (M), chairman of trustees, Brunel Museum, SE16

Will the lights go out for cars?

I am excited to think that soon we will all be driving round in cars powered by electricity! Last week’s parade of electric cars in Hyde Park claimed that 80 miles was possible on a single charge costing £1.

With zero road fund to pay, I can’t wait! However, one or two thoughts occur to me. What will happen in 2016 when we are unable to generate enough electricity to meet even current demand?

How will government cope with the significant loss of revenue presently generated from tax on diesel and petrol?

  • Robert Astley,

Holding back the tides

With regards to the letter “Road spending is not a luxury that can be cut” (NCE letters last week), the caption states “This street…was closed because the council could not afford to repair it”.

This comment carries with it an implication that the surfacing, or the drainage, which could be dealt with out of a maintenance budget was the problem.

The reality is that those houses, and that road, are built on the head of a landslide.

To suggest that the authority should fund “repair” work out of its’ maintenance budget is akin to suggesting that Canute should have funded keeping back the tide out of his Treasury Budget.

  • Keith Nicholls (M), Llys Menden, Mold, Flintshire,

We have always had much to contribute

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and with so many Institution members now engaged in work outside mainline construction, it is appropriate and uplifting to remember that both Reginald Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire, and Sir Barnes Wallis, the designer of the Wellington bomber and the bouncing bomb, were both ICE members.

The rich variety of tasks performed by our members and other engineers, as 70 years ago, will help ensure the sustainability and growth essential for the world’s long-term prosperity.

  • Gwilym Roberts (F),


John Potter’s letter (NCE 9 September) was illustrated with the wrong image. The chart below, extracted from a presentation by Professor Roger Falconer, should have been included. Apologies.


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