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 member from Chitral Attalique, Jafar Ali Shah, during 1972–1975. Work on the tunnel began on 8 September 1975, inaugurated by Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, but was stopped in 1976 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 fourteen-hour drive from Chitral to Peshawar by 50%. The tunnel will also facilitate all-weather transportation, as during the long winter season the Lowari Pass is closed, and people of Chitral have to travel into Afghanistan and then back into Pakistan to reach the rest of the country. When the border is closed Chitral remains virtually inaccessible during the winter.
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 initially 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 the summer of 2011 construction briefly began again, but soon ceased. 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 the following winter to three days every week (2012–2013), and to three days every two weeks the next winter (2013–2014). 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.
In 2015, the government approved additional funds for a revised PC-I of the Lowari Tunnel, and indicated that it should be completed by October 2017. Under the revised budget, it is expected to cost Rs 18.13 billion.
Project Name: Lowari Tunnel
Length: 8.5 km
Diameter: 7.1 metres
Cost: PKR 26,954 Million (USD 13200 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: December 2017
Physical Progress: 55% completed
Notes and references
- Military took over on 5 July 1977
- 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 Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- 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 likely to be completed by 2017". Daily Times. Pakistan. 23 August 2014. Archived from the original on 28 August 2014.
- Lowari tunnel work in full swing
- Ice melts on the Lowari tunnel
- National Highways Authority: Development Projects
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