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Truckers go on strike against tunnel closure

UPPER DIR, March 23: The members of Dir-Chitral Truck Transport Union have gone on a hunger strike against the authorities for not allowing them to pass their vehicles through the Loweri tunnel. The truckers have been sitting in the hunger strike camp for the last three days. The leaders of the union including Wazeer Mohammad, Zahid Khan, Mohammad Islam and Irshad said they were forced to go on hunger strike because their trucks were not permitted to pass through the Lowari tunnel. They claimed that two protesters were hospitalised after they fainted the other day. lowariThey said that more than 400 loaded trucks had been parked on the roadside from Dir to Lowari tunnel for the last two months. The truckers said that their vehicles were their only source of income. They said that more than 1,000 families were suffering as the authorities were not allowing them to pass through the tunnel. They said that they were unable to buy food for their families and books for their school going children owing to financial constraints. The leaders of the union said that their strike would continue till acceptance of their demand. They criticised the project director of National Highway Authority (NHA) and alleged that he was permitting the trucks and oil tankers of influential people to pass through the tunnel. They said that they also met with Chief Minister Parvez Khattak on February 9 in Peshawar to apprise of their problems. The chief minister ordered the relevant authorities to allow the trucks to pass through Lowari tunnel, they said. They alleged that project director of NHA even defied the order of the chief minister and didn’t allow the trucks to use the tunnel. Currently, only small vehicles are allowed to use the tunnel which has affected supply of daily use items to Chitral. The truckers asked the NHA and provincial government to clear snow from the Lowari Top road as soon as possible if their trucks were not allowed to pass through the tunnel. The Lowari Top remains closed due to heavy snowfall every year at least for four months.–Dawn]]>

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