QUETTA / SWAT: Hundreds of people were stranded on Quetta-Sukkur N-65 Highway after two vital bridges were closed due to damage to their structure.
Up north, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who visited the flood-hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat district on Tuesday, blamed constructions along river banks for the devastation caused by floods.
The Bibi Nani bridge in Kacchi area of Balochistan has been damaged due to incessant downpour and flooding in the area. Meanwhile, Pinjra Bridge on the highway has been washed away.
As bridges were closed, passengers, including women, children and elderly people were struck between Ab-i-Gum and Dhadar area of Bolan district.
Gas, electricity supply still disrupted in province; COAS links flood devastation to structures on Swat river
“We are sitting in the buses and facing a very difficult situation as food and water is running out,” said Ghulam Muhammad, 60, who was travelling on the road.
A driver Muhammad Afzal said that they can neither reach their destination nor go back to Quetta.
However, PDMA officials have said that the passengers were being provided with cooked food and water. Meanwhile, local administration and NGOs were also providing the supplies.
Commander 12 Corps Lt-Gen Asif Ghafoor has also visited the bridges and directed National Highway Authority officials to finish repair works and restore traffic within 24 hours.
Gas, electricity supply still disrupted
Even after passage of several days, gas and electricity supply to different areas of the province could not be restored.
Meanwhile, internet and mobile phone service were still facing disruption in provincial capital Quetta, which was still disconnected from other parts of the country through the road and railway network.
Authorities have said that efforts to restore the services were being hampered by overflowing seasonal rivers and nullahs which were still carrying floodwater.
The pipeline in Bolan river, which was swept away last week, could not be repaired as the river was still carrying high flood.
“We have dispatched machinery, pipelines and other equipment and after security clearance and soil testing, repair work will be launched,” said Sui Southern Gas Company spokesman Salman Ahmed Siddique.
The internet and mobile services were suspended once again after the optic fibre cable was damaged in Bolan area.
“We are trying to repair the damaged cable and restore services in Quetta and other areas,” a PTCL spokesman said.
COAS blames illegal constructions
Meanwhile, the COAS has said that it was the negligence of the authorities to allow construction on the banks of Swat river after the catastrophic 2010 floods.
Talking to the media after his visit to Swat, the COAS said legal action must be taken against those who allowed constructions on the river’s banks.
During the visit, the COAS also met locals and tourists rescued by army aviation helicopters from Kumrat and Kalam.
Gen Bajwa said the army would always stand with the people in difficult times and do its best for relief and rescue.
Talking about relief operations, the COAS said other nations have been contracted for provision of tents as Sindh and Balochistan are in dire need.
He also lauded the response from overseas Pakistanis and said they were sending generous donations to help their countrymen.
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2022