UPPER DIR: Even after passage of over one year since the formal inauguration of the Lowari tunnel, miseries of the people of Chitral, particularly tourists, have still not ended as they have to wait for hours on both sides of the tunnel before being allowed the passage.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had inaugurated the tunnel on July 20, 2017.
However, still the passenger vehicles are allowed to go through the tunnel in shifts, the method adopted before its inauguration.
The people of Chitral while on way to other parts of the country and back home said the formal inauguration of the Lowari tunnel was just an eyewash because they were facing the same problems as before.
Ijazuddin, a resident of Chitral, said the vehicles were allowed to pass through the tunnel in shifts. If someone faces an emergency the tunnel authorities do not care, he deplored. He said allowing vehicles in shifts was unfair because there was no work ongoing inside in the tunnel.
Another resident of Chitral said the tunnel authorities gave permission to the vehicles of influential persons and ignored the poor people.
Tourists coming from Lahore and other cities of Punjab complained that they wanted to see the tunnel from inside, but got disappointed when they were told they could not use the tunnel while boarding bikes because motorcycles were banned to use the tunnel.
Local bikers said because of the ban they had to put the two-wheelers in vehicles at heavy rent to pass through the tunnel.
Sources in the National Highway Authority said security forces deployed at the tunnel had also taken over the job of regulating vehicular traffic other than the job of maintaining only the security.
Meanwhile, construction of the approach roads on both sides of the tunnel is going at snail’s pace, because of which, long queues of vehicles can be seen on both the sides, causing suffering to the commuters.
The Chitrali people and tourists demanded of the government to allow them to go through the tunnel round the clock and also lift the ban on passage of bikers through the tunnel.
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2018