CHITRAL: Due to the lack of maintenance by the National Highway Authority (NHA) and other departments concerned, people travelling on the Lowari Pass are not only facing hardship and inconvenience but also risking their lives due to frequent accidents.
Scores of lives have been lost in a number of accidents that occurred on the pass, especially in or near streams/nullahs during the last a couple of years. In summer, the snow on the Lowari mountain starts melting increasing the level of water in the nullahs and streams. As a result, public transport and private vehicles remain stuck on the road for hours as they cannot cross the gushing water. Long queues of vehicles on both sides of such nullahs have become common in the summer.
Passengers travelling on the Chitral-Peshawar and Chitral-Islamabad routes complained that they had to pass through a number of security check posts where they were stopped causing wastage of time. While on the Lowari Pass, they face the closure of the road due to the flooding in the streams/nullahs. They regretted that the NHA had failed to construct small culverts or lay some pipes for the flow of the water to protect the track for the convenience of the travellers.
A few days before Eidul Azha this year, a Chitral-bound vehicle met with an accident at one such stream in the Dir side of the Lowari Pass, leaving four people dead and scores of others injured.
The passengers said every year the NHA shows on papers the allocation of millions of rupees on the maintenance of the Lowari Pass but the condition of the road shows that these funds were never utilized judiciously otherwise the travelers would not have suffered such a hardship every day.
They appealed to the government to take notice of the issue and order the NHA to properly maintain the Lowari Pass route to facilitate the travellers.—GH Fraooqui