Thu. Dec 3rd, 2020

Constant Threat: A sharp turn on the KKH near Hussaini village, Gojal

A satellite view of the dangerous turn. The area from left is a steep slope, followed by a sudden U-turn. All accidents occur at this site.

PT Report

Gojal, October 22: Dozens of vehicles have faced accidents while navigating a sharp, blind, turn on the Karakuram Highway, since construction of the road, at  the outskirts of the Hussaini Village in Gojal Valley, Upper Hunza. Locals inform that at least eight people, including Chinese and Pakistanis, mostly drivers, have also lost their lives during the last decade at this location in road accidents.The number of people who have been injured or maimed and the scale of the economic losses caused by the accidents has not been accounted for.

The sharp turn, where no safety/caution signs have been installed by the FWO, NHA and the CRBC
The sharp turn, where no safety/caution signs have been installed by the FWO, NHA and the CRBC

Yesterday’s was the most recent accident, involving a merchandise laden truck that turned over at exactly the same spot. The truck was carrying merchandise imported from China and was moving towards the dammed Hunza River, from where the goods had to be transported to Gilgit. Fortunately, there was no loss of life due to he accident.

The turned over truck. Photo: Naveed
The turned over truck. Photo: Naveed

Ali Rehmat Musofer, a local resident, says that the issue has been going on for almost a decade but the authorities have failed to provide a solution so far. “Recently, they just constructed the retaining wall and took some protective measures to ensure safety of the road, but did nothing to either widen the area or reduce the sharp turn by makin gstraighter”, he said.

Another view of the trucks that turned over near Hussani village of Gojal
Another view of the trucks that turned over near Hussani village of Gojal. Pohto: Ali Sarwar 
A truck covered with a tarpaulin after accident last winter
A truck covered with a tarpaulin after accident last winter

Ali also recalled an accident in which a huge tanker carrying gas and coming from China had overturned at this spot, creating a massive chemical hazard for the entire settlement.

While the Pakistani and Chinese authorities are holding talks to build the road into an “Economic Corridor” and heralding it as a regional game-changer, the locals are in fear because they are expecting a sharp rise in the number of trucks traveling on the KKH.

“The number of accidents at this spot, particularly, is likely to increase”, said Haider, a person involved in trade with China. He said that since the Chinese company CRBC and NHA are currently active in the region, they need to find a solution and save the lives of drivers and passengers.

Locals have also said that most of the accidents occur during the night when the driver’s vision gets limited due to darkness in the valley. They also said that majority of the vehicles facing accidents are loaded with merchandise and, most probably, lose balance while navigating the killer turn.

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