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CHITRAL, Aug 15: The residents of Chitral have expressed concern over closure of the unfinished Lowari tunnel for general public, saying they have to cross Lowari Top owing to closure of the tunnel.  

National Highway Authority (NHA), the executing agency of the project, had reportedly informed the district administration last month that the tunnel would be closed for general public because work was being restarted inside the tunnel.

“No work has so far been started on the project but the passengers are forced to travel for few extra hours as they have to cross Lowari Top,” the residents of the district said.

Wing Commander (retired) Fardad Ali Shah, a leader of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, said that transporters raised fares, both for commuters and goods, owing to closure of the tunnel.

He said that prices of daily use items were also increased in the district owing to raise in transportation fares between Dir Upper and Chitral.

Mr Shah said that the tunnel was constructed for people and there was no reason to close it for them without any reason.

Abdul Haq, a former union council nazim, criticised the PPP government for stopping work on the project soon after coming into power. “Now it has closed the tunnel for the passengers,” he added.

He said that closure of tunnel created problems for passengers in Ramazan as climbing Lowari Pass and negotiating 42 turns was a tiresome job.

Karam Ali, a passenger from Lotkoh valley, said that influential people were allowed to pass through the tunnel while some trucks were also seen using the tunnel.

“If the tunnel is closed for commencement of work or any other reason, then why selected people are allowed to pass through it,” he questioned.