Gilgit - Baltistan

Bridge collapse threats local economy

By: Zulfiqar Ali Khan

Hunza, August 28: The Collapse of the main bridge on KKH, connecting Hunza, Nagar and other areas with Gilgit town, has resulted in sharp decrease in potato price and increase in the side-income of local police.

According to reports, the price of potato has been reduced drastically from Rs. 2000 per bag to Rs. 1400 per bag after this incidence, on wake of the price hike for all life sustaining goods in the country. This is creating great concerns in the region, as potato is the main source of income for the local farming community.

The potato contractors, political activists and representatives of farmers of Hunza and Nagar valley have held an urgent meeting in Aliabd Hunza and condemned the harsh behaviour of the police with the truck drivers and labours at Konadas and Nomal bridges. They blamed police for allowing heavy trucks carrying Chinese exports goods while illegally charging huge money. They said that heavy trucks carrying wheat of civil supply and oil tankers are also allowed to cross the bridge. This is also causing damages to the already poor wooden bridges. The contractors have also stopped purchasing potato due to shortage of trucks and high transportation costs.

According to potato contractors, the cost of transportation before the collapse of the bridge was Rs 180 per bag from Aliaabd, Hunza to Rawalpindi which increased to Rs 410 per bag. An additional Rs 60 per bag is paid for the loading and unloading of potato at both sides of the wooden bridges.

After the collapse of the main bridge, the traffic was diverted to Gilgit through the bridge constructed by Chinese firm to carry the heavy machinery of Naltar Power house. The wooden bridge that connects Konadas with Gilgit are also in poor condition. In case of the collapse of these wooden bridges, there is no alternative way to supply goods of daily life to Hunza, Nagar and other parts of Gilgit.

The local representatives have threatened the Northern Areas Administration to stage protests and convene long march from Hunza-Nagar to Gilgit, if alternative arrangement has been not made to avoid huge loss to the local farming community.

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  1. Dear Zulfiqar and PT readers,
    The news shocked me to know that due to the collapse of the Chinese bridge between Danyore and Gilgit proved to the collapse of the Economy of Hunza and Nagar. The matter is not only because of falling the bridge, but it seemed man made disaster as mentioned by the reporter regarding the techniques of robbing the poor farmers by the local police. Indeed it is the right of the local inhabitants to condemn the authorities for snatching their due rights.

    On the other hands, it is the responsibility of the state machinery to provide basic infrastructure to the public and make their living normal by facilitating and providing the basic commodities. But, unfortunately it moves in reverse and the struggles of the remote rural communities are beaten in the form of bribery and vulnerability. The peaceful public have always kept silent and tried to search for alternatives. In case collapse of bridge is out of their access and it is the first and foremost responsibility of the public representatives and government high officials to deal with the issue on priority basis.

    Due to the present economy situation where price hike touches the sky and increase the unemployment the people of Hunza-Nagar have only hopes and options to sale their cash crop potato and make arrangements of their livelihood including plan the health and educational matters of the kith and kin. So, it is very important to take the matter serious and find alternative ways to transport the potato and china trade via Jalal Abad to Alam Bridge or prepare an iron bridge over river Gilgit on emergency basis.

    In case of delay the bad weather could affect the billions of potato crops and causes to man made dissertator in Hunza- Nagar. I do hope the responsible authorities will take this issue as important and save the people of Hunza-Nagar from starvation and sufferings. It is also expected that government could not compel the local people to take the control of law in their hands or to give them chance for agitation and strike.

    Thanks and regards
    Sharif Khan

  2. It is a hars condition that is been faced by the people of Hunza and Nagar including Danyur and Oshkhandas to Rahimabad parts of Gilgit.

    It is amazing that it’s going to be more than three weeks but still the Pakistani local administration in Gilgit has not taken any serious measure to resolve this problem.

    thanks to China they have built the Nomal bridge otherwise it would have created a heavy catastrophe in the region. However, it is amazing that until now nothing has been done the so called elected representatives of Hunza and Nagar. The so called illigally (Mir) Ghazenfar, who is the Chief of the NALA has not even said any policy statement regarding the rebuilding or arrangements for alternative sources.

    Iit has been already mentioned that this route is the back boon of the commercial and economic life of the Hunza and Nagar which is currently broken. So, immediate efforts should be made by all stakeholders of the area to restore this bridge or an alternative. Otherwise it will add cost of living in millions more in the coming times.

    An Immediate step could be taken by stopping heavy trucks of Pakistan China trade from running over the Konadas bridge and protect it from further damage, until no other alternative is available.

    On a short ultimatum of two days a long march should be initiated by the people of Hunza and Nagar without wasting any time.

    The construction of any new bridge should be under the supervision of local representative, a committee should be formed including political, civil society organizations and NGOs. Otherwise govt. will deal it on a pace of lukewarm. It possible the contract of building a new bridge should be given to China.

    Tania Beg

  3. Dear readers of PT,
    It is really shocking to know about the collapse of one of the important bridges of Gilgit. The situation has become devastating for the people of Hunza-Nagar,who work hard through out the year to generate income by selling potato at reasonable prices. Apart from the sufferings of the local inhabitants,the Pak-China trade has also been in crucial situation and would lead to great economic losses not only for the area but for the entire country.
    I personally faced difficulties while travelling to Gojal as had to use an alternative path to reach to Hunza via Nomal.
    The thing to be noticed is that the economic losses would endander many areas and would make situation very crucial in the coming days.
    My request from the concerned authrites would be to immediately take a notice of the situation and implement some possibilities so that the sufferings could be minimized.
    I would personally thank Zulfiqar for exposing such a crucial issue and hopefully some strong measures would be taken to overcome the immediate losses.
    Aslam Ghalib

  4. Repairing of the damaged bridge may take too long, and by the time it is repaired or rebuild, what will happen to the entire community of Hunza/Nagar? They worked hard for months in their potato fields, invested a lot in terms of using good quality seed and very expensive fertilizers, and now when they are ready with their crops, there is no buyer or buyers who will pay them very little.

    I am sure the Chinese construction firm or even the FWO can build some sort of temporary bridge for the transportation of heavy and loaded vehicles, for the time being, and it is the responsibility of the Northern Areas Administration to take up the issue on immediate basis. We expect the Chief Executive NALC to play his role as well. So far we did ‘nt hear anything from them.


  5. Dear readers
    “Hello man i don’t have money right now I will Pay you later in the season of potatoes harvest” This is a statement with which our ears have became used to since our child hood. I was getting short of money and called my father and said, send me some money after selling the potatoes.
    the above paragraph directly and clearly shows how much dependent are we on the crop of potato. If we are made helpless in selling this crop through different means and ways,natural disaster,police illegal tax and lack of proper guidelines,it becomes quite difficult to survive for those who have the only income source by potatoes. The construction of bridge will take time. I would request the youth pressure groups who are active in protests and other political issues in hunza should take notice of this crucial issue and at least compensate the farmers from the illegal tax and keeping fair prices.

  6. Very true, Patato as cash crops is very important livelihood of our people, local govt, political parties and civil society organization should play their role to address this very critical issue. PT team deserve appreciation for highlighting this very basic issue.

    Dilawar Khan Parbat

  7. The collapse of the bridge in gilgit has no doubt created an uncertainity amongs the dwellers who live on the other part of the region. Due to collapse of bridge it has created a great shortage of basic neccesities like fuel, flour and other important materials. We the people of the other part need to demonstrate peacefully in front of local administration so that the repair work gets underway soon…..


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