CHITRAL, 14th Jan 2009: Vehicles of NHA and Sambu the Korean company crossed through the Lowari tunnel from one end to the other on Wednesday. GM NHA, Project Director Lowari Tunnel project and officials of Sambu company were present on the occasion. District Nazim and Tehsil Nazim Chitral presented Chitrali caps to them at the Chitral end. The tunnel had broken through on 10 January. It is hoped and expected that shortly the tunnel would be opened to commercial vehicles in a controlled manner.
About Lowari Tunnel
The Lowari Tunnel is an 8.6km (5.3 mi.) long road tunnel located in the NWFP province of Pakistan between Dir and Chitral District under the famouw Lowari pass.
The tunnel, which has been built by cutting through the Lowari Pass, was originally conceived in the 1970s. Work on the tunnel originally began in 1974. However, then-president Zia-ul-Haq stopped construction due to political reasons. As of September 2005 the tunnel work has restarted. On July 8th 2006, President Pervez Musharraf officially inaugurated the Lowari Tunnel, completion is expected very soon.
This mega-project is ranked 5th out of top 20 development projects currently underway
The tunnel will reduce the current 14-hour drive from Chitral to Peshawar by half. Moreover, people of Chitral have to travel from Afghanistan and then enter back in Pakistan during the winter season as Lowari top is closed for any traffic for most part of the year. Chitral remains virtually inaccessible in the winter, the tunnel will also facilitate all-weather transportation. Some Chitrali natives are concerned about the impact the potentially increased tourism will have on the region.
A South Korean construction company, SAMBU has been assigned the work on the tunnel. It is expected to be completed at a cost of Rs.8 billion ($133 million US). Currently the project is overseen by Mr. Salman Rashid, General Manager of National Highway Authority (NHA). Salman Rashid is a retired Lt. Col. of Pakistan Army, he belonged to the Corp of Engineers. He has been a part of several major construction projects all over Pakistan.