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Seeing the and the; best worst

The President recorded his impressions of the tour.

Week One

On arrival in Islamabad we are straight into our programme. A very busy first day is rounded off with a visit to Tarbela dam.

Tarbela was constructed between 1968 and 1974 to hold back the Indus and provide irrigation and power. Now both functions are under threat as the huge storage lake is silting up. Each year, during the few weeks of the snow-melt season, the mighty Indus carries 200M tons of silt into the lake - that's what I call muck-shifting! Civil engineers are currently designing schemes to deal with the silt and extend the life of the facility.

Week Two

The accident and death rates on Indian roads are fifty times higher than in the UK.

This seems extraordinary until one encounters vehicles of all sorts without lights and cycles and motor cycles blithely proceeding in the wrong direction along a dual carriage way.

One is tempted to wonder how we can solve the problems of India. It is important to remember that the ICE President is not here to tackle these problems. This raises the question: 'Why are we here?'

First we want to increase ICE membership in the sub continent. Our traditions here in civil engineering are tremendous; the personal relationships are very cordial; many people are fluent in English and the need for civil engineers is great. We should never have allowed our membership to decline.

The way to a growing membership is to promote Joint Board of Moderators accreditation to those universities which are truly of a standard to warrant it. The process of accreditation is now gaining momentum.

Secondly, we wish to co-operate with and to assist the local engineering institutions. However, we cannot expect those gaining ICE membership in addition to their own local membership will be other than a minority.

The ICE's object of advancing and promoting the art and science of civil engineering is well supported by assisting indigenous institutions in the region.

To this end it is good to report that I have this week signed Agreements of Co-operation with the Institutions of both Pakistan and India.

Week Three

Consider two construction projects which we visited in close succession. One much needed project which began in 1981 was abandoned in 1990. By 1993 efforts were made to restart the work and a UK consultant appointed. A survey showed the previous work had been to a truly poor standard. Reinstatement is targeted for completion in 2002.

Then we visited the Larsen and Toubro design and construct elevated roadway in Bangalore. This was a project that any civil engineer would have been proud of - sophisticated design implemented on a massive scale.

The gantry for placing the pre-cast segments was to say the least impressive - as was the design of the elegant rounded soffit.

Clearly, Indian civil engineering can lie anywhere between poor and excellent, with the culture of site supervision extremely variable.

The Institution, in partnership with local organisations, clearly has a role to play in helping to move performance in the right direction.

It has been a hard but fascinating three weeks. Given the brief as set out in my diary of the second week, I believe this has been a successful tour.

The ICE team has performed well. We have been wonderfully well received everywhere we have visited. Progress has been made.

The tour has also provided food for thought. To discern the international role of the ICE is not a simple matter.

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