Dilapidated Mastuj Bridge In Dire Need Of Revamp

Dilapidated Mastuj Bridge In Dire Need Of Revamp
Mastuj Bridge – which has immense importance for the Upper Chitral district, is in a dilapidated condition, and requires an immediate repair to avert a disaster.

Last year, a portion of this crucial bridge was damaged due to floods; the foundation and pillars were badly damaged.

Besides, due to the diversion of the river, water flowed in the middle of its two parts, weakening it further.

As a result, the road to Mastuj as well as Gilgal, Brughal, Yarkhun areas had to be closed. This bridge was built during the regime of former President Pervez Musharraf, and the road was rebuilt to the west side, from the east.

Back then, the construction of Shandor road was also announced and the construction material had arrived at the site. Moreover, the National Highway Authority had started work on the Boni Mastuj road last year, but it was all left unfinished afterwards.

Now, due to the bad condition and roughness of the road, the passing vehicles not only carry a dire threat of collapse, but the smoke of dust and mud bring agony and possibly, disease to the residents and passers-by.

Chitral Development Movement (CDM), comprising volunteers, has been advocating for the construction of the roads in Chitral, but to no avail so far.

According to Inayatullah Aseer, a senior member of CDM, the road – to be built beyond Mastuj to Central Asian states – may bring the valley closer to these areas that may change the fate of the underdeveloped region by means of tourism and culture.

He added that the Gwadar route is 1,800 kilometers while the Brughal route is only 200kms from Chitral to Tajikistan, highlighting that it used to be a silk route in the past for merchandise.

Liaquat Ali, Vice President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, expressed that the people of the area are very disappointed because of the unfinished work on the Mastuj road.

Read this too: Hundreds Protest In Chitral Over Non-Restoration Of Flood-Hit Village

He lamented that a Chinese company had carried out blacktopping on Booni road, but a National Highway Authority (NHA) contractor had made the road unpaved again by raking the coal tar.

The current condition of the road is making the lives of the locals miserable, also causing trouble for Chitral University students, making their commute almost impossible. 

Mohammad Ashraf – a driver by profession – said that he often has to use the road. Earlier, it used to be the best road in the area, he added.

Ashraf pointed out that the construction of the road didn't take into view modern requirements. In case of a revamp, it could indeed make the lives of the locals easier.

Syed Burhan Shah Advocate – also a senior member of the CDM – seconded that the road leads to Wakhan and Tajikistan.

After the floods last year, the department concerned did not opt for a timely repair, and now a revamp will cost millions and benefit those responsible for it.

Shah asserted that the road from Chitral to Booni and Mastuj had been repaired poorly and announced that the elders of the area will soon approach the court against the contractor and the department responsible.

Rafiq Ahmed, CDM's secretary general said the company turned the road into ruins and left it incomplete, and will be brought to justice.

Syed Jamaluddin Shah – a social worker and an honourary member of CDM – warned that the possible collapse will disconnect locals from the rest of the district and bring their cultural activities, such as the Jashan Brughal, to an end.

People use the same bridge to see the world's highest polo event, Shandur Mela, he maintained.

CDM members and those representing the political and social circles of Chitral demanded the federalgovernment and the Supreme Court to direct the NHA to resume construction of the road, and appoint an honest consultant to oversee its completion.