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Lack of safety measures in Lowari tunnel worries passengers

CHITRAL, Feb 15: There is no system in place for the safety of passengers inside the incomplete 8.7 kilometres Lowari tunnel, which is used by people of Chitral district during five months of winter season, starting from December. lowari-4The tunnel remains open to public transport on Saturdays and Sundays and during these two days each week roughly 1,000 light and heavy vehicles pass through it. Talking to this correspondent here on Friday, a number of passengers said that the situation could be disastrous and claim precious lives if no safety measures were taken for them. They said that while passing through the tunnel they literally felt suffocation due to accumulation of poisonous gases emitted by vehicles. They said that absence of any rescue system in case of emergency inside the tunnel, prevalence of darkness and absence of medical cover were the other things worrying them. “During the 40-minute journey through the tunnel, a passenger can seek help from nowhere and has to literally wait for the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Dr Inayatullah Faizi, a former manager of IUCN, in Chitral. He also mentioned the absence of any recovery service of a vehicle inside the tunnel in case it broke down, which could cause entrapping of passengers. A doctor from Chitral requesting anonymity said that stagnation of vehicular traffic inside the tunnel could be fatal for a passenger suffering from claustrophobia, a medical condition in which the patient dreaded darkness. He said that unfortunately the medical condition was found in many people, particularly women. A number of passengers also complained of rash driving and dangerous overtaking of vehicles inside the tunnel as there is no one to enforce traffic rules there. The people have proposed that phone booths should be set up at each 500 metres to communicate any emergency situation so that help could be mobilised to the spot instantly. They also demanded deployment of ambulances inside the tunnel to pick the affected passengers as soon as possible.–Zahiruddin]]>

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