MINGORA: Ijaz Ahmad, who was born without legs, always wished to go to Chinar Khwar but the absence of a bridge on the stream between his village and the other came in the way.
“I always dreamt of crossing the stream to see the world on the other side but the dream took years to fulfil,” the 17-year-old of Chinar Khwar told Dawn after the opening of a bridge on the stream between his village and Gwalarai here.
Tourism and culture minister Mehmood Khan inaugurated the bridge on Friday.
Say now, they feel safe crossing the watercourse
The youngster said he was surprised yet delighted to see hustle and bustle in the main Gwalarai village bazaar, which was something new, as I had never seen so many shops, vehicles and people in one place before.
He said the bridge would open new windows of opportunities in life for him.
The 170 feet Chinar Khwar hanging bridge in Barthana union council of Matta tehsil has been built by the Sarhad Rural Support Programme under the European Union’s PEACE project at the cost of Rs4.194 million with the Rs586,000 community share.
The bridge connects eight hamlets including Balir Kas, Chinar Khwar, Karakal, Ura, Dherai, Awaro, Malyar and Bhattai.
Before the construction of the bridge, villagers used to put large wooden planks on the stream to cross it. However, it was dangerous for children and women. Many times in the past, small flooding swept the ‘makeshift bridge’ away.
“We had faced multiple problems due to the absence of the bridge, especially during rainy days when the water level in the stream increased leaving villagers unable to cross it. Many people including children and women had drowned in the stream while crossing it,” said Mohammad Sher, an elder of Barthana village.
He said there were bridges on the stream located at the distance of about three kilometers each from Chinar Khwar village.
Another villager, Mohammad Uzair, said during the monsoon season when the stream was flooded, the people of the area either went down to Aghal village or up the stream to Ghwalerai village to cross the stream for routine outdoor activities.
Both the villages are located at the distance of around two kilometers.
“If we’d patients in critical condition or with injuries, we covered the extra distance of two kilometers to go to Aghal to cross the stream and take patients to the hospital in Matta,” he said.
The villagers said the bridge had eased their misery.
“We have heaved a sigh of relief at the construction of the bridge. Now, our children will go to schools and women will cross the stream safely,” Shah Wazir Khan, a resident of Chinar Khwar.
He said villagers could reach the bazaar and other facilities in five minutes after the bridge’s construction.
Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2016