CHITRAL: Even though the National Highway Authority (NHA) claimed to have completed work on the Lowari tunnel by 100pc, the government authority is not ready to open the passageway for passengers 24 hours a day.
At a meeting held under the chairmanship of Malakand Division Commissioner Zaheerul Islam and attended by army officers and others on Wednesday, the NHA project director said the 8.5 km long tunnel had been completed and only construction of the two km approach roads on both northern and southern sides was ongoing. The participants said there was then no justification for keeping the tunnel open only for nine hours that too in breaks which was causing hardship and inconvenience to passengers especially, women, children and sick persons.
The NHA was directed that work on the approach roads should be expedited to complete them on a priority basis. The meeting decided to enhance the opening timing of the tunnel from the current nine to 15 hours.
The tunnel will remain open from 4am to 8am, then from 9am to 1pm, from 2pm to 5pm and from 6pm to 10pm. During the Shandur festival, the tunnel will remain open for 24 hours from July 5 to July 12.
Moreover, the tunnel will remain open for 24 hours from July 5 to July 12 in order to facilitate tourists attending the annual Shandur festival held from July 7 to 9. It was also decided that during the closure of the tunnel, vehicles with green registration plates, army, police, NHA, motorway police, levies vehicles, ambulances and vehicles carrying patients and dead bodies will be allowed passage from either side. –Nazir Hussain Shah