Build Mastuj road or face long march, warn residents

CHITRAL, Oct 8: The residents of upper Chitral have warned the government that if black-topping of Booni-Mastuj road was not started by October 25, they would hold a long march to Chitral. People from the union councils of Mastuj, Yarkhun and Laspur in a protest demonstration at Mastuj the other day alleged that the communication and works (C&W) department had embezzled the funds allocated for the project and w as now claiming that it had paid the money to the contractors. “It is the worst type of corruption and both the contractors and the department’s officials remain scot-free,” they added. Addressing the protest meeting, the speakers, including Amirullah Khan Yaftali, former tehsil nazim Shahzada Sikandarul Mulk, Qazi Jamalud Din and Syed Molaidin Shah, said the reconstruction of the road had been delayed by four years, creating numerous troubles for the people. They said it was a clear-cut corruption but the provincial government is providing protection to the coterie of corrupt belonging to the C&W engineers and the contractors. They regretted that the dilapidated condition of the road from Booni to Mastuj had not only elongated the journey by two hours but also made it highly perilous as many traffic accidents have occurred only this year. The speakers said bad condition of the road had also caused  increase in the fares of passengers and goods to the valleys while the people are suffering from abject poverty. They said the road had its importance as it connects Chitral with Gilgit-Baltistan on one side while on the other side it leads to the boundary area of Boroghil giving it strategic importance. They complained that whenever they tried to lodge their protest over the inordinate delay in the completion of work, the local administrators induced them to delay it but this time they have determined to go to any extent to press their demand. The speakers demanded of the auditor general of Pakistan to carry out special audit to the payment of bills to the contractors without physical work on the site and bring to book the responsible engineers of the department.–Zahiruddin]]>