CHITRAL: Residents of dozens of villages of Sweer village in Darosh tehsil sighed with relief on Sunday as Sweer Bridge, over Chitral River, was inaugurated and suddenly covering long distances to access Chitral became a thing of the past.
Sweer Bridge now connects Sweer village and its two sub valleys and its 4,320 households directly to Chitral. The main road of Chitral runs parallel to Chitral River which is at five minutes’ distance from the village but without a bridge over the river, residents had to travel of 15 kilometres to Darosh village and from there cross a bridge to reach Chitral.
Residents of Sweer and the surrounding villages complained of being left behind in almost every sector.
“Without the bridge we were deprived of basic education and health,” said a local elder, Muhammad Ali Khan. He added it was really difficult for them to tackle emergency situations in which patients had to be taken to hospitals as it would take time and the patients would die en route. It was especially difficult for pregnant women to travel such long distances.
“The bridge has shortened the journey and now we can get off the bus on the main road and reach our village in just five minutes,” said Qari Jamal Abdul Nasir, another resident. “Patients can also be easily taken across the river.”
The funds for the bridge were given by German Development Bank (KfW) through Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, and the construction was carried out by Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP). The total cost of the project reached Rs10.7 million in which nearly Rs8.6 million were given by the donors.
At the inaugural ceremony, SRSP CEO Masoodul Mulk told the local community members present that the bridge has been constructed for their convenience and it is their responsibility to take care of it.
Chitral Deputy Commissioner Aminul Haq inaugurated the bridge. “It is not just a simple scheme to help people but in reality it is a lifeline for the people living across the river.”
The construction of the bridge started in November 2013 and was completed in nine months.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2014.