<![CDATA[ISLAMABAD, Feb 17: As much as possible, frail, elderly persons, women, children and people with high or low blood pressure should avoid travelling through the under-construction Lowari tunnel, says a resident of upper Chitral after reaching here from Chitral. Talking to ChitralToday, Hazara Khan said he regularly visited Rawalpindi and Lahore to purchase goods for his shop in the village. “I had travelled through the Lowari Pass in the winters and also used the under-construction tunnel but this year it seemed too dangerous,” he added. It may be noted that the tunnel lacks safety measures but the people of Chitral have no other option but to travel through the passageway to keep connected with the other parts of the country. He said he hired a taxi and reached the tunnel at about 2:45pm on Sunday. After entering the tunnel, my heart seemed sinking. Water was continuously dropping on us with quite high pressure and it was pitched dark. The taxi driver lost courage and asked a driver of the company working on the tunnel to drive the vehicle to the Dir side. After about six kilometers inside the tunnel, we found the passageway blocked as a loaded truck had stuck there. There was smoke all around. In the meantime, a man came to us and pleaded that his sick mother was dying due to suffocation as the ambulance carrying her from Peshawar to Chitral could not proceed further into the tunnel due to the blockade by the truck. We had no way but return to the Chitral side after dumping the old sick woman into the boot of the taxi. After reaching the Chitral side, we waited for over an hour till the stuck-up truck was removed. At about 9:30pm we crossed the tunnel and moved towards Timargarah. However, our agonies never ended as after reaching Timargarah at about 1:30am the next day, we found that there was no room in any hotel. A large number of Chitrali passengers, including women and children, were seen sitting and lying outside the tea hotels and in the bus terminal. It was also observed that people in Timargarah are taking advantage from the miseries of the Chitralis. One resident of the city took us to his house and provided us a room to sleep after charging Rs500 per head. The next morning, there was too much rush in the bus terminal and people were seen trying to get seats in the vans to reach their destinations in different cities. He said that a few days back some women passengers fell unconscious due to suffocation inside the tunnel and later they were removed to the Chitral side by the Chitral Scouts. With no safety measures in place, the absence of medical care to meet an emergency situation further makes it very dangerous to travel through the tunnel. ]]>
2 Replies to “Never out of the woods!”
On the way to Peshawar from Chitral we had a chance to wait at the tunnel point till the Korean Sambu company officials allow traffic to pass through the tunnel.
It had been a tradition for the last many years when the episode of tunnel has been emerged as single entry for the people of Chitral to go down the country. Waiting at the tunnel point for more than five hours is very difficult experience for the passengers especially children, women and elderly people extremely suffer in this regard. People of Chitral in general and members of civil society in particular observed a number of public demonstrations for sensitizing the government officials regarding the suffering of the passengers during winter season so that amicable solution could be found for passengers but all the time their demand is turned down with the pretext that SAMBU company work is disturbed if work is suspended in the tunnel more than 48 hours.
In this grim situation when general passengers were suffering to the highest extent SRSP came for rescue and initiated the brilliant idea of erecting the shelter house at the point of tunnel where no such facility was available and passengers especially women, children and elderly people were experiencing extreme hardships. After passing a few hours in the shelter house we came to know that there are some organizations which are fully aware of the problems of the community members and giving ideal solution to address the issues and SRSP is one of them.
The structure of the shelter house is also constructed according to the needs of the passengers like one waiting room for male, one waiting room for female, male wash room, female washroom and there is also one room reserved for mosque. Quality of all the rooms is very high and there is also heating system installed in the waiting room which further improve environment of the Shelter house. When vehicles are stopped at the point of tunnel passengers directly move from their vehicle towards the Shelter House like their home and enjoy some sort of cookies, tea and other edibles items served in the shelter house by the well disciplined jawan of Chitral Scouts. This Shelter House converted the boring place of tunnel into picnic resort and all the time passengers enjoy in the shelter house till the traffic is allowed to move down country.
This Shelter House Project is ideal combination of private public partnership and three different organizations are involved in executions and further maintenance of the project so that it becomes sustainable. From the board installed in the shelter house logos of SRSP, EU, Chitral Scouts and KP government are visible which reflect that these entities are involved in this project. The project is financed by EU, executed by SRSP and further maintenance responsibility has been assigned to Chitral Scouts which reflect beautiful combination and it enhance sustainability of the project. SRSP Chitral is appreciated for this public friendly bold idea of the project which is dire need of the hours, EU is also highly appreciated for extending financial support for such type of humanitarian projects and Chitral Scouts efforts in daily maintenance of the project is also commendable. Quality of work and service provided in the Shelter House is better than Guest House and I would like to rename it as “Lawari Guest House”
It is really very sad that Govt is not giving the attention to Lowari Tunnel that is the only passage to Chitral during the Winter.We all Chitrali should unite and protest for this critical issue.