Gaise chairlift tragedy: Protesters demand judicial inquiry, compensation for victims’ relatives

Say negligence, not overloading, caused the accident.

Shabbir Mir July 27, 2012


Over 300 villagers staged a protest in Gaise valley on Thursday, demanding judicial inquiry into the deaths of eight people who drowned after the makeshift chairlift they were travelling in plunged into a river two weeks back. The protesters chanted slogans against the government and blocked the Karakoram Highway (KKH) for five hours.

“We want judicial inquiry into the incident and immediate compensation for those who lost their relatives,” said Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly former member Fidaullah. “We condemn the government for the lack of interest in our issues,” said another protester, Dr Bakhtawar.

The protesters reacted strongly over a statement issued by Minister for Works Bashir Ahmed, who maintained that the chairlift fell due to overloading. They maintained that it was not overloading but inefficiency of the government that led to the accident.

On July 15, eight persons died after a makeshift chairlift linking Gaise valley with KKH crashed into a river after the ropes holding it snapped halfway. None of the bodies could be recovered. The improvised chairlift, locally called Ga’raari, was built after the 2010 floods swept away the lone bridge that connected the valley with the highway.

A few days before the accident, locals had lodged a complaint with the executive engineer about the deteriorating condition of the lift, demanding immediate repairs.

The minister, in response, suspended three responsible officials, including the executive engineer, for negligence.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.


Zaman Punyali | 10 years ago | Reply

I am so bereaved to know about the tragedy which claimed eight precious lives but for unknown reasons, has failed to move the political stalwarts sitting in the GB assembly. The chairlifts make an out-dated mode of transportation. Referred to as "Grari" in indigenous dialects, they are locally made and hence lack sophisticated modern technology which could ensure safety. These things are extremely dangerous to travel on over the roaring waters of Gilgit Baltistan but are still in practical usage. The GB government should move its machinery and resources to make suspension bridges in the areas where these dangerous chairlifts are in use.

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