KARACHI: Everyday thousands of people travel to and fro on the Rawalpindi-Abbottabad- Mansehra and Chilas-Jaglot-Gilgit-Skardu route. In addition, trucks transporting goods also pass through this route. Every truck has a driver and a few helpers/assistants. All these people have some basic human needs like responding to nature’s calls as well as the need to eat and drink en route to their destinations. Now, one should remember that any journey on this route can take up as much as 15 hours of travel time, sometimes even 22 hours. This route is not only a very long one, but also extremely treacherous and bumpy. The most popular destination in this region, Gilgit, has an air service, but this is most unpredictable and unreliable due to the inclement weather; also, it cannot be afforded by everyone.
However, surprisingly, there are no proper rest and refreshment areas on this one and only route that leads to Gilgit-Baltistan and other parts of the region. There are no proper facilities for travellers, which means that they have to remain confined to their vehicles for long hours without food, water, or the luxury of stretching their limbs.
In view of the above, I request the authorities concerned to establish facilities that provide eatables and clean washrooms on this route. The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation or any of the large beverage selling companies may take up this responsibility and ensure that such areas are properly maintained. The government should also encourage the establishment of qualitative service areas on this route, which would provide a source of income for the locals, apart from enhancing the possibility of increased revenue from tourism.
Syed Sayef Hussain
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2012.
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