Gilgit, July 21: The Chinese Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC) has been engaged in in reconstruction of the Karakuram Highway in the Gojal Valley for almost eight years. Their work was halted for some time due to the Attabad Landslide disaster and the resultant destruction of a 17 km portion of the Karakuram Highway. They obtained contract for reconstruction and realignment of the KKH, by building tunnels between Attabad and Shishkat; significant progress has been made in this regard during the last couple of years.
The Chinese corporation, which employs a large number of locals as technical and non-technical staff, is also busy in constructing culverts at two locations between Gulmit and Hussaini village.
The locals are hoping that on completion of the projects they will get rid of the boats and restart traveling on the new KKH. “Reaching Aliabad will now be very easy”, said Bashir, a local resident. He also said that the cost of traveling will lessen significantly after the road is reconstructed.
Some, however, are not very happy with the working of the CRBC. A number of locals said that many of the Chinese workers are illegally involved in selling liquor to the local youth, including minors. They also said that many of the Chinese workers are not respecting the local norms and culture and that they are getting involved in “objectionable activities” in public.
Hundreds of the CRBC workers are living in the region along with labourers from different parts of Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. Some of the boat operators and laborers are also believed to be involved in selling Charas and other drugs to the local youth.
The locals have also complained that the CRBC workers are leaving crushed stones and other construction material on the roads in various places, causing accidents of bikes and other vehicles.
A CRBC official, who did not want to be named because he was not allowed to talk to media, negated the allegation and said the road accidents are being caused by careless driving and over-speeding. He added that CRBC is a professional organization and it has completed major projects in different parts of the world. He said that the corporation has a policy of respecting the local cultures and traditions.
The local youth organizations and elders have, however, demanded of the police and CRBC high ups to keep an eye on the activities of the Chinese and other non-locals in the region, to avoid any unpleasant incident in the future.