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Another weekend of torture at Lowari tunnel

CHITRAL, March 9: Every weekend when the Chitralis are allowed to travel through the under-construction Lowari tunnel, they come out with hosts of complaints about humiliation, torture and long hours unnecessary wait due to the inefficiency and bad attitude of the officials posted at the passageway. Lowari copyThis weekend, the passengers had to wait for 24 hours in front of the tunnel under the open sky in the biting cold weather. They complained that they reached the tunnel at 2pm but the project director (PD), Imdad Hussain, did not allow them to pass through the tunnel. The passengers told this scribe that the government had already announced the opening of the tunnel for vehicular traffic on every Saturday and Sunday but despite that the PD stopped the passengers, including women and children as well as serious patients. When this scribe contacted Imdad Hussain, he said Deputy Commissioner Chitral in his report had alleged that the National Highway Authority (NHA) and Sambu company were mishandling the passengers and because of that a large number of passengers had also stranded inside the tunnel and fell unconscious due to suffocation a few weeks back. As a result, he seemed too cautious. Sher Nawaz, the president of Mazda Union, complained that he reached in front of the tunnel on Saturday but he other drivers were not allowed entry into the tunnel. He said they had to wait for more than 24 hours in the severe cold weather and under snowfall. Zahir Shah, the general secretary of the Driver Union Upper Dir, alleged that the NHA staff were getting money as bribe from influential persons and allowing them to travel inside the tunnel even on other days. A large number of women, children and ailing persons were seen crying in front of the tunnel because there were no facility of civic amenities like toilets and waiting rooms. There were hundreds of vehicles and thousands of passengers who also protested against the brutality and inhuman behavior of the PD NHA for stopping them for long times without any reason. The passengers also protested and chanted slogan against the NHA and Sambo company.Hence after continue struggle and agitation, they were allowed to travel through the tunnel after 10pm instead of the scheduled time of 2pm. Social and political circles in Chitral demanded that the federal government should take stern action against the PD and other NHA staff who were violating the government decision regarding the opening of the tunnel for two days a week. Meanwhile, five people were injured when an avalanche fell over a passenger coach in front of Lowari tunnel at Dir side.]]>

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