The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has issued a July 31 deadline for the National Highway Authority (NHA) to restore the Kohat tunnel.
The tunnel was destroyed when an explosives-laden vehicle blew up, damaging the tunnel. NHA officials had earlier said that repairs will be done by July this year.
Heading a division bench with Justice Syed Sajjad Hassain Shah, PHC Chief Justice (CJ) Dost Muhammad Khan criticised officials for not fulfilling their commitment to the court. The bench ordered the commissioner, district coordination officer and district officer revenue of Kohat to constitute a team which will collect the toll tax if NHA authorities fail to meet the deadline.
The court also ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) director general to collect records of tokens issued to vehicles that have used the tunnel over the last four years.
Officials from the highway authority claimed that they advertised the tender for repairing the tunnel but companies had been reluctant to work in Darra Adam Khel due to law and order problems in the area.
CJ Khan said that the NHA official posted in the area were threatening companies to not take up the project and pocketing the money received from toll tax. “If the situation is so bad then why are you still in Kohat?” he questioned.
He further said that millions of rupees are being collected in taxes, but the NHA had not improved health and safety standards. Smoke from vehicles is collecting in the tunnel and non functional exhaust fans pose health risks to commuters.
“Bring it back to the condition the Japanese government had left it in,” CJ Khan said, adding that he will visit the tunnel.
“The NAB director general should personally look into the matter why the exhaust and lighting systems have not yet been restored,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2012.