Govt takes flak for Lowari tunnel closure

CHITRAL, Jan 13: Leaders from different political groups have criticised the government for keeping Lowari tunnel closed to traffic for four days a week on the pretext of work, saying it has stressed out the local residents.Currently, motorists use the tunnel on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

PTI leader Farhad Ali Shah said work on the tunnel remained halted for four years and all of a sudden, the government restarted work on it in December last when its term was to be completed within six months. He said resumption of work on the tunnel would prove counterproductive for the ruling coalition as the local residents were suffering a lot due to the closure of tunnel. Mr Shah regretted that no alternative route had been provided to the tunnel users on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for movement to other parts of the country. He said it was bizarre to see the government restart work on the project at a time when the Lowari Top Road was closed to traffic due to snowfall. Former MNA from Jamaat-i-Islami Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali said the budgetary allocation of Rs500 million was too little for work on the tunnel. “Denying the people of Chitral a passage through the tunnel on a daily basis means multiplication of public problems in the district, which has no outlet except for Lowari tunnel,” he said. Mr Chitrali said the closure of the tunnel had stressed out the people of Chitral by restricting their movement and causing a shortage of goods and medicines. He said the people using the tunnel had seen no substantial work on the southern portal of the 8.5km long tunnel except for excavation in a few hundred meters. Former district nazim Maghfirat Shah said the misery of the people during the closure of the tunnel was beyond description. He said the completion of the work on the tunnel project should be left to the next government and that the people should be allowed to use the tunnel throughout the week.–Dawn]]>