Potato growers concerned over non-repair of closed bridge

By Zahiruddin

CHITRAL: Potato growers in Garam Chashma valley have expressed concern over the dilapidated condition of a suspension bridge in Mogh village which has long been closed for heavy vehicles.

Mohammad Hussain, a member of the district council from Lot Koh, said the people of the valley cultivated potato as cash crop and the harvesting season of the crop would commence from the first week of September, but heavy vehicles won’t reach the area this season due to the closure of the bridge for last four months.

He said the Garam Chashma Road and the bridges on it were maintained by the communication and works department, but the provincial government had not spent a penny on the road’s repair during the last one year.

Fear bumper potato crop may not reach market if bridge remains closed to heavy vehicles

Mr Hussain said that the local farmers offered to rehabilitate the dilapidated bridge during an open kutchery with deputy commissioner of Lower Chitral last month, but to no avail.

Khosh Mohammad Khan, a member of the tehsil council from the area, said due to the supportive climatic conditions, bumper potato crop was expected this year, but no trucks would be able to enter the valley to transport the commodity due to the ramshackle bridge.

He said every year thousands of trucks reached the valley and transported potato from the farmlands and the roadsides to the national market in Peshawar and different cities of Punjab as the local species of potato was known for its superb quality.

He said if the bridge was not rehabilitated, the farmers would have to transport it on mules or light vehicles which would reduce their dividend by 20 to 25 per cent due to additional carriage charges.

When contacted, executive engineer of C&W, Lower Chitral, Usman Shinwari said the bridge was basically designed for light vehicles but it was being used for heavy vehicles.

He admitted that some girders of the bridge had been rusted and were not able to withstand the heavy load any more, but their replacement on emergency basis was not possible for want of funds.

“It is duty of the elected representatives to get the requisite funds approved by the government for rehabilitation of the bridge,” he said.

Strangely enough, the C&W divisional officer had no estimated cost for rehabilitation of the bridge.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2019

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