The Karakoram Highway (KKH) remained blocked for the fifth consecutive day on Friday, after a massive landslide obstructed part of the KKH near Pari on May 30, hugely disrupting traffic.
Rubble piled up on the highway when Chinese engineers tried to widen the KKH from Raykot to Khunjerab. The pile-up forced hundreds of trucks to wait on both sides.
“We reached Gilgit via Chamogarh road as there was a large convoy of trucks,” said a passenger from Rawalpindi.
An official in a transport company told The Express Tribune that they had suspended the bus service between Rawalpindi and Gilgit, adding that they were incurring a substantial financial loss. “[But] we can’t run the service unless the road is opened for heavy traffic,” he said.
The highway’s expansion work started two years back, and the journey has gotten worse, with buses coming from Rawalpindi taking more than 20 hours to reach Gilgit. The blockage near Pari has added another two to three hours to the journey.
“You cannot imagine how painful the journey on KKH has become,” said Sultan Azam, a student in Abbottabad.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that hoarders have started storing food and other daily items in an attempt to profit from the situation. “A food crisis is looming large if traffic is not restored in a few days,” said Din Mohammad, a local shopkeeper. Some claimed that fuel shortages were rising as existing stocks in Gilgit have almost run out.
National Highway Authority Chairperson said it will be another two days before traffic is restored on KKH. “The work is in progress and we hope it will be completed in a couple of days,” he said. He added the road between Gilgit and Skardu was open for traffic.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2011.