PESHAWAR/CHITRAL, Dec 1: The residents of Chitral on Saturday staged a demonstration in the provincial capital against the closure of Lowari tunnel and demanded the opening of the route to the traffic from 4pm to 8pm daily to ease their misery.

Jamaat-i-Islami leaders Abdul Akbar Chitrali, Maulana Khalil Ahmad, Mohibullah and Asmatullah led the protesters, who held banners and placards and shouted slogans against National Highway Authority.

Mr Chitrali said the opening of the tunnel thrice a week and that, too, for three hours a day had stressed out the residents of his area.

“The people face great hardships in movement due to closure of the route. Things worsen in emergency when they’re unable to take patients to Peshawar. The shifting of bodies is also a problem,” he said.

The JI leader said the people’s misery could be eased by opening the tunnel from 4pm to 8pm daily but both the provincial government and NHA seemed disinterested.

“We have begun the protest in desperation and will continuing protesting until our demand is met,” he said.

In Chitral, local MNA Shahzada Mohiuddin warned on Friday that strict action would be taken against transporters operating bus service between Peshawar, Islamabad and Chitral on the days Lowari Tunnel was closed to traffic.

Mr Mohiuddin told reporters that the tunnel remained open to traffic on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but transporters of Peshawar and Islamabad operate bus service to Chitral on other days of the week forcing passengers, including women, children and elderly people, to wait for the opening of the route in buses. The MNA said transporters would be responsible if damage was caused to the life of any passenger on the route.

He said he would take up the matter on the floor of the House with a request to the government to keep the tunnel open to traffic all through the week.

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