The Lowari Tunnel was originally conceived in 1956 by the Government of Pakistan but there is no historical record to this claim. Recorded history shows that the Lowari Tunnel project idea was discussed in the National Assembly of Pakistan by the MNA from Chitral Attalique Jaafar Ali Shah during 1972-75. Work on the tunnel began on 8 September 1975 inaugurated by PM Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto but was stopped in 1976 due to Military takeover of civilian government and on the pretext of lack of funds and other development priorities, work on the tunnel did not restart until September 2005.
The tunnel will reduce the current 14-hour drive from Chitral to Peshawar by 50%. Moreover, people of Chitral have to travel from Afghanistan and then enter back in Pakistan during the winter season as Lowari top is closed for traffic for most part of the year. Chitral remains virtually inaccessible during the winter; the tunnel will also facilitate all-weather transportation.
Construction on the tunnel was originally begun in September 1975 as a railway tunnel, but work was stopped in 1977 after a change of government resulted in other development priorities. Construction resumed in September, 2005 with an expected completion in three years, but that time was extended after it was decided to convert it to a road tunnel.
Construction vehicles transited the uncompleted tunnel in January 2009, But work was stopped due to another change in government. The tunnel was temporarily open in the winter of 2009-10 when the Lowari Pass was closed. In 2011 construction briefly began again but had again ceased by the end of the year. By October 2011 SAMBU JV had removed all of their construction equipment. The National Highway Authority cited as cause various disputes about proper payments not being made to the SAMBU construction company. By Fall 2012 work had restarted, but winter public access was restricted to three days every week for the winter of 2012–2013, and to three days every two weeks the following winter. The tunnel remained uncompleted, most of the interior of the tunnel lacks its shotcrete lining, retaining walls or a metalled road. The tunnel is also not yet properly ventilated. The situation was not improved by the winter of 2014–2015.
Project Name: Lowari Tunnel
Length: 8.75 km
Diameter: 7.1 metres
Cost: PKR 5,545.7 Million (USD 133 Million)
Client: National Highway Authority (Pakistan)
Contractor: Sambu JV (South Korea)
Consultant: Geoconsult-Typsa JV
Date of Commencement: 5 September 2005
Estimated Date of Completion: March 2014
Physical Progress: 44% completed
Notes and references
- Staff (16 April 2015). "Lowari Tunnel project to be completed by Oct, 2017". Pakistan Ki Awaz. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
- Business Recorder, 12 April 2009[dead link]
- Khan, M. Ilyas (2 February 2014). "Pakistan Lowari: Frozen travellers trapped by an unfinished tunnel". BBC News. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
- Khan, Zar Alam (13 April 2010). "Early closure of Lowari Tunnel criticised". Ground Report.
- Azad, Bashir Hussain (6 October 2011). "Lawari Tunnel". Chitral Times. Archived from the original on 12 October 2011.
- "Work on Lowari Tunnel going smoothly". Business Recorder. 4 December 2012. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
- Fatimi, Munir Hussyn (24 January 2015). "Thousands stranded near Lowari tunnel". Chitral Today. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
- Ahmad, Zulfiqar (8 February 2015). "No end to torture, humiliation at Lowari tunnel". Chitral Today. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
- Khan, Zar Alam (6 January 2015). "Revised PC-1 of Lowari tunnel access roads". Chitral Today. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
- Lowari tunnel work in full swing
- Ice melts on the Lowari tunnel
- National Highways Authority: Development Projects
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