LANDI KOTAL: More than 5,000 residents of Luzakka Darra in Tirah are without basic facilities of life despite tall claims of officials about allocation and utilisation of huge development funds in the militancy-affected region of Khyber tribal district.
The 10-kilometre road leading to the valley from Bagh Markaz beyond Haider Kandaw is still not metalled owing slow pace of work on it for over a decade. The road with some dangerous high altitude curves also connects Tirah with Kurram tribal district.
The road was also used as a trade route among Tirah, Kurram and Orakzai along with some bordering districts of Afghanistan prior to construction of Mastak-Tirah road in 2017.
Schools and basic health unit in Luzakka Darra without staff since 2012
The entire Luzakka Darra is without electricity and most of its residents, belonging to Qambarkhel tribe, rely either on solar panels and power generators or kerosene lamps. They fetch water from natural springs that are sometimes polluted by flash floods and carelessness of public transport drivers, who wash their vehicles there.
The erstwhile political administration had in 2002 and some years onwards constructed at least two primary schools in Kutki Kallay and Zangi Kallay, two middle schools in Muweez Kallay and Mamanrray Kallay, a basic health unit in Kutki Nek Mohammad Kallay and animal husbandry hospital in Karigar Kallay near Haidar Kandaw but all these buildings have been without staff since 2012 when Taliban captured Tirah.
The local people told Dawn that nearly 200 schoolchildren daily walked to government schools in Dogar area of Kurram district, covering a distance of over 15 kilometres both ways as they had no teachers in their own schools.
Malak Ismail, a local elder, told Dawn that teachers and health staff were reluctant to come to Luzakka Darra owing to lack of facilities and bad condition of road, leading to the area.
He demanded recruitment of local educated youth in the government schools to save their children from the daily fatigue of going to schools in Kurram. “A large number of our children abandon their schooling half way owing to absence of teaching staff at our own schools,” he added.
Haji Nek Mohammad, another elder, said that the only basic health unit was built adjacent to his house in 2007 but it was still without health workers. He said that most of the local people took their patients to civil hospital in Sadda, Kurram that was at a distance of nearly 25 kilometres from their area.
Qari Naurang, a local resident, inform this scribe that telephone lines in Luzakka Darra were cut off in 2012 and since then they were cut off from the rest of the ‘world’ as mobile phone service too was not extended to the valley.
He said that most of the local people had to climb to the Haider Kandaw checkpost, situated on a hilltop, to use mobile phones. He said that landline telephone service too was provided to them from Dogar exchange but it was later suspended due to ‘security’ concerns when Taliban attacked Tirah.
Mr Naurang said that a good number of Luzakka Darra residents were still without national identity cards as they travelled rarely outside their area and the facility of issuing Computerised National Identity Cards was not available in the valley.
He said that the speedy construction of the road would not only overcome shortage of teaching staff and health workers in the area but it would also encourage tourists to explore the natural beauty of Luzakka Darra.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2019