The construction of a suspension bridge in Shinkat village in Swat valley has restored the only all-weather land link connecting villagers to Mingora.
The bridge, connecting Shaltalu village with Shinkat and Mingora, has been termed as a landmark by villagers.
“We would be stranded for months in the rainy season. Our children could not go to school and people in need of medical care would die before reaching a hospital,” said Sultan Zamin, a villager.
Infrastructure in rural Swat was completely wiped out by the floods in 2010, resulting in a multitude of crises for people.
“I could not go to school when the water swelled the stream. I would be absent for days, which not only affected my studies but also resulted in punishment,” said Wazir Khan, a seventh-grade student.
“I’m really glad this bridge has been constructed. Now I can go to school without any trouble,” he added.
The absence of a bridge had resulted in the death of several persons, who could not be taken to hospital or nearby basic health unit.
“People could not get medical care in case of emergency. We would have to wait for dawn and many patients would expire on the way,” said Umar Khan, a local resident.
“The construction of the bridge has ensured free movement from both sides, which is a huge blessing for us,” he exclaimed.
Funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid), the bridge has been constructed by local people with technical support from Sarhad Rural Support Programme. AusAid has so far completed 82 development schemes in 19 union councils in Swat valley. Zamin said, “Development schemes are much more useful than personal assistance, since they benefit the whole community.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2012.