Gul Hamad Farooqi
CHITRAL: People are forced to wait for up to 24 hours in front of Lawari tunnel under open sky in chilli cold weather. Passengers complained that they reached the Lawari tunnel area at 2pm but project Director (PD) Imdad Hussain did not allow them to travel inside the tunnel. Passengers told this scribe that the government has already announced opening of Lawari tunnel for vehicular traffic on Saturday and Sunday but the PD refused to allow the passengers, including women and children.
On inquiry, Imdad Hussain said that Deputy Commissioner Chitral in his report has accused the National Highway Authority (NHA) and Sambu Company of mishandling an incident last week in which a large number of passengers were stranded inside the tunnel and some of them had reportedly also fainted due to suffocation.
Sher Nawaz president Mazda Union complained that he reached in front of Lawari tunnel on Saturday but he along with other Mazda and heavy vehicles were not allowed inside the tunnel and that they were forced to wait there for more than 24 hours in severe cold weather and snowfall.
Zahir Shah General Secretary driver union Dir upper alleged that NHA staff getting money as bribe from some influential persons and allow them to travel inside the tunnel without its schedules time and days.
A large number of women, children and ailing persons were crying and complaining that they are being made to wait for hours in front of the tunnel where there are no facilities and civic amenities.
There were hundred of vehicles and thousands of passengers who also protested against brutality and inhuman behavior of PD NHA for stopping them for long hours without any reason. These passengers also protested and chanted slogan against NHA and Sambo company.
After continuous struggle and agitation they were allowed to travel through Lawari tunnel after 10 O clock at night time instead of 2pm, during the day time.
The passengers, as well as representatives of the social and political circles of Chitral have demanded stern action against PD Imdad Hussain and NHA staff who stand accused of violating the government decision for opening of the tunnel two days a week.
When this scribe visited Lawari tunnel while travelling through the tunnel there was nothing on the spot to pretext to stop the vehicular traffic. But seems only obstinacy and dishonesty of Project Director Imdad Hussain.
People are also demanding for opening the tunnel at least 4 hours a day to enable Chitral people to travel inside the tunnel.
Meanwhile some 5 people were injured when an avalanche fell over a passenger flying coach in front of Lawari tunnel at Dir side.