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Passengers criticize NHA for not fully opening Lowari tunnel

CHITRAL: The people of Chitral have decried the closure of Lowari tunnel for 12 hours daily owing to maintenance work, troubling the commuters, including tourists in a large number, even after being inaugurated in July last year by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The passengers said the tunnel was opened for the public transport at 9am, making them to wait for five hours.
Rahmat Illahi, a member of the district council, said the council had passed a number of resolutions, urging the National Highway Authority to open the tunnel at 5am instead of 9am to f acilitate the passengers, but to no avail.
He said the return of Chitralis from Peshawar and other cities of the country had started with the arrival of spring season, but they were inconvenienced at the tunnel. He said the timing of bus departures for Chitral in Peshawar and Rawalpindi was not changed, and the buses reached the Upper Dir side of the tunnel well before dawn where the people had to wait for four hours as the tunnel opened at 9am.
Sajjad Ahmed Khan, Jughoor village nazim, said tourists` flow into Chitral district had been affected and the spring festival of Kalash people scheduled to commence from May 15 would also get hit by the tunnel closure.
Mr Khan said af ter the inauguration of the tunnel by the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on July 20 last year, NHA was not justified to close it for 12 hours a day.
He warned that the issue could create a law and order situation if the passengers were subjected to such harsh treatment at Lowari.
Ghulam Mursaleen of Yarkhoon valley, coming from Islamabad with his family, said when he reached Chitral town, all the vehicles for his village had already departed, forcing him to stay in a hotel for night at great expense.
When contacted, Chitral Deputy Commissioner Irshad Sodhar said he had talked with high-ups of NHA about the gravity of the situation. He said passengers suffered and there were protests almost on daily basis against the prolonged closure of the tunnel.
Babar Khan, director operations NHA headquarters Islamabad, said the tunnel closure schedule would be revised as per the request of the district administration after making proper arrangements. –Dawn

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