Encroachers take over Chitral bypass site

CHITRAL: The incomplete bypass road in Chitral is being used by taxi drivers, pushcart vendors and other encroachers as the contractors have disappeared from the site without completing the work due to shortage of funds.

About four years back, the then chief minister KPK Ameer Haider Khan Hoti had inaugurated the work on the construction of the bypass. It was a long-standing demand of the people of Chitral to build the bypass to resolve the traffic gridlocks in the Chitral bazaar. But four years after the start of work, the project has not been completed and it has further created a mess in the shape of the encroachments on its site.

On the other hand, the traffic congestion in the bazaar has further aggravated with trucks bringing goods for the traders from Peshawar and other down district blocking the narrow lane of the bazaar leaving even no room for pedestrians to move around.

A few months back, the portion of the road from Chew bridge towards the bazaar was blacktopped but now it has developed cracks due to the use of substandard materials, showing corruption by the contractors in collusion with the communication and works (C&W) department. But it seems that there is no one to hold the corrupt elements accountable for the misuse of public funds.

It may be noted that shops, bank and other buildings were demolished to clear the way for the construction of the bypass and the contract for the construction of a second bridge over Chitral stream near Attaliq bazaar was awarded to a non-local company. The contract for the construction of another bridge over Molen Gol near Chitral Scouts headquarters is with contractor Muhammad Khan. Local residents while talking to ChitralToday said that the local contractor was habitual of delaying works or even leaving them incomplete to enter into some sorts of new agreements to fix new rates in collusion with the corrupt officials of the C&W department and pocket more money.

When this correspondent tried to know the version of Mohammad Khan contractor, he flatly refused to say anything on the matter. When contacted, an official in the C&W department said that no responsible officer was present in the office to comment on the matter.

Abdul Nasir, a local human rights activist, said that Rs710 million had already been spent on paper about the bypass project but still it was presenting the look of ruins. He said a number of inquiries were conducted into the misuse of the funds but without any results. It meant that everyone is involved in the misuse of the funds, he added.