By Siraj Ulmulk
The photos in this post are what I took yesterday (Aug 29, 2018) on the Lowari Pass travelling from Islamabad to Chitral. I would like to share my views mainly with my fb friends from Chitral.
Anywhere in the world a tunnel will be built after a road on both sides to it have been completed. Especially when one has had the luxury of making that tunnel since 40 long years.
But here in Chitral we have a tunnel inaugurated by the prime minister of our country but with no worth while road leading to it. In fact a few years ago in winters I could not get to the tunnel because this under construction road had got snow bound and un-passable.
Two years ago I could see good work on the Chitral side of the tunnel and little work being done on the Dir side of the tunnel. Yesterday I saw the opposite. A lot of work was being done on the Dir side of the tunnel and NO work was being done on the Chitral side of the tunnel. I could also see from the progress of work on the Chitral side that it must have been some time since work had been slowed down or abandoned. Ironically the only sign of the missing contractor USMANI ASSOCIATES (Pvt)LTD said ” overtaking is not allowed”. What a joke on Chitral Mr Usmani.
Lets talk a bit about the tunnel opening and closing time announced to us by NHA. It looks reasonable but the NHA itself does not adhere to it. You could arrive at their open timing and find the tunnel closed indefinitely or you could arrive at a closed time and be allowed to enter. I arrived at a closed time and my grey hair and fancy 4WD made the man wave me in. Naya Pakistan had not yet reached the Lowari Tunnel.
Its when I entered and exited the tunnel that my stomach started to turn. There were lines of vehicles on the Dir side and lines of vehicles on the Chitral side but nothing was happening inside the tunnel due to which all these vehicles were being held up. Honestly there was NO work being done in the tunnel at all and no sign of it either. I could also see that ever since the tunnel had been inaugurated last year NO progress had been made inside it. The air inside was heavy with Carbon monoxide fumes and there was only the lights of my vehicles front beams to lighten up my way.
So what is really happening here can anyone of you or any one in any authority please tell us. Please. For the sake of the travelling public of Chitral who are suffering with the hope that their daily waiting on both sides of the tunnel will expedite the work inside it ??? And why has USMANI ASSOCIATES PVT LTD stopped or slowed down work on the Chitral side during these crucial days before the winter months?
Our new MNA has never missed an opportunity to remind us that he is the architect of this tunnel. Here is his chance to put a stamp on his claim. He must pick up the threads and lead the way to restart and complete this work that has been pending since more than 40 years.
I have probably burnt my boats for entering this tunnel for some time to come.
But so be it!