Family days out: Hazara picnic spots crowded as beehive on Eid

Ban on entry of heavy vehicles in Hazara caused petrol shortage

People take a boat nele on a boat in Tarbela Dam. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD SADAQAT/EXPRESS

ABBOTABAD: The five-day Eid holiday gave people an opportunity to visit various picnic spots in Hazara to take respite from the sizzling heat.

Hundreds of people from different parts of the country were seen at the picnic spots by Khanpur Dam, Tarbela Lake in Haripur, Sajikot Waterfall in Havelian, Harno Amusement and Entertainment Park, Global Family Park, Shimla Hill, Nathiagali, Ayubia, Thandiyani in Abbottabad and Kaghan, Naran and Saiful Malook Lake in Mansehra district.

“It is [good] some private investors have provided state-of-the-art entertainment services which were missing until recent past,” Nadia, a resident of Rawalpindi who visited Cantonment Park with her three children, told The Express Tribune. “This has encouraged tourists to spend time on the banks of lakes or enjoying eco-tourism.”

According to Nadia, such facilities should be provided at Khanpur and Tarbela lakes as well so that tourists from Punjab could enjoy them near their cities.

The entertainment services included those at Harno Amusement and Entertainment Park where an artificial lake and a play land for children are built and the newly established Global Family Park in Cantonment Part in Abbottabad city.

Amid grievances

A few tourists have drawn attention to problems with the services being offered. A tourist from Islamabad, who had gone to enjoy a boat ride in Tarbela Lake near Khalabat Township, was dissatisfied with the life-saving arrangements. He said the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa tourism department has failed to develop the tourist sports during the last four decades even though it has considerable potential to excel. He was also irked at being overcharged by boatmen at Khanpur Lake.

Nevertheless, there were a considerable number of children and women who seemed pleased with the environment of the picnic spots and wished they could frequently visit the areas.

Persistent problems

People also complained about having to pay exorbitant amounts of money on food and rooms at hotels in Galiyat, Kaghan and Naran.

The high demand gave hoteliers a free rein as there were more people this time because of the five-day holiday as opposed to previous years when people would only spend a night or two during Eid.

Besides, traffic jam was another problem the tourists were faced with. The route between Khota Qabar barrier to Qalandarabad on Karakoram Highway and Murree Road were the arteries that remained clogged with vehicles.

Abbottabad police have claimed to have devised a traffic control plan which included, monitoring of traffic with drone cameras. However, they were not used. Other plans also proved futile despite over 200 cops being on duty from other districts.

The tourists had to wait for hours on Mansehra Road and Murree Road.

“We expected 200,000 vehicles in Abbottabad, but during the first two days the number of vehicles rose to 300,000 which complicated the situation,” a police officer said. “However, in Mansehra and Haripur there were traffic jams but for a brief duration.”

The inconvenience did not end on clogged routes and pricey hotels, there was also a shortage of petrol and diesel following a ban on the entry of heavy vehicles in Hazara during the three days of Eid.

Hazara Petroleum Association President Taimoor Shani told The Express Tribune the ban by Hazara DIG created the shortage of fuel. He added tourists travelling in high-powered vehicles need more petrol or diesel in high-altitude areas like Galiyat, Ayubia, Kaghan and Naran up to Babusar Top. However, he said, due to the ban, long queues of oil tankers were parked on the entry point of Jhari Kass in Haripur.

“The influx of tourists exhausted the available quota of filling stations, complicating the situation for owners and tourists.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2016.


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