CHITRAL, Jan 29: The people of Broghil and Yarkhun in upper Chitral have alleged substandard work and corruption by private contractors in the reconstruction and widening of a jeep track that links the two valleys situated along the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan with the rest of the district.
The 90-km-long jeep track from Zhupoo village to Yarkhun Lasht was built about 20 years back when the now disbanded Chitral Area Development Project (CADP) provided funds and the residents donated land. Located in the extreme north-east of Chitral, Broghil valley borders with Afghanistan in the west and China in the north-east. Except during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when food and fodder for the cattle-keeping inhabitants of the remote valley were airdropped, successive governments have ignored the area. The intensity of Broghil’s backwardness can be judged from the fact that its first primary school was opened only a few years back.
It may be recalled that in July 2011 militants intruded into Chitral from the Nooristan province of Afghanistan and killed over 40 personnel of Chitral Scouts. Soon after the incident, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani visited the border areas in Chitral. During his visit to Broghil valley, the army chief was reported to have expressed serious reservation over the inaccessibility of the area due to absence of road and telecommunication facilities.
In a statement sent to the media, a group of local people including Umar Rafee, the president of Chiantar Welfare Society, Broghil; Mohammad Wazir Khan, ex-UC nazim of Yarkhun; Issar Ahmad, former member of the district council; Nadir Khan, former councillor; Mohammadd Aziz and Panahik Khan said during a visit to the area on July 30, 2011, the then corps commander of Peshawar had promised to build a jeep-able road up to the Pakistan-Afghan border near Wakhan. The corps commander later took up the matter with Chief Minister KP Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and the project was approved.
Under the first phase of the project, work on the portion from Zhupoo to Yarkhun Lasht was started in October 2012 by private contractors Fazlur Rehman of Booni and Daud Khan of Ayun under the supervision of the army. The contractors claimed to have completed the work on December 25. However, he residents said the contractors did not reconstruct the road properly and just cleaned the existing road and at some points widened it to hardly 12 feet.
They said four bulldozers were used in cleaning and widening of the road. Neither any bridge over the streams and the Yarkhun River was repaired nor were protection walls against sliding of rocks and avalanches built. Besides, no sewage or channel was built along the irritation and streams flowing over the existing road in many areas. The private contractors also did not pay compensation to the residents whose land was used for the widening of the road. The difficult phases of the previous road like at the end of Shost and Rawark mountain area have not been levelled or widened, they added.
The residents said the private contractors had made claims and submitted a bill of Rs70.5 million to the C&W department at Mastuj where the bills had been cleared. They would get the payment in a few days for repairing the existing 90 km road from Zhupoo Yarkhun to Yarkhun Lasht. “During the construction phase, we all have been regularly travelling on this road and observing the works very closely.” The residents requested the government to stop the payment to the private contractors until they complete the project.