Lowari Tunnel project to complete in 3 years

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Thursday, July 18, 2013 - Islamabad Work on Lowari Tunnel located on Nowshera-Dir- Chitral Road (N-45) is going on and the project worth Rs 18 billion will be completed in three years. A National Highway Authority (NHA) official informed APP on Wednesday that the delay in the construction work was due to 2011 floods and the disputes over payment between the Korean construction company SAMBU and the NHA.

He said that when the Lowari Tunnel project began in 2005 it was planned to be constructed in two phases. In the first phase, the 8.54 km long tunnel was to be constructed with access roads, while in the second a railway track was to be laid. The main tunnel has 7.14 meter maximum height and 7.55 meter maximum width, with 9.3 kilometre access road from Dir and 9.2 km from Darosh. The auxiliary tunnel is two km long.

The project could not be completed in October 2008 as planned. In October 2009, the then government decided to change its design from a rail tunnel to a road one. Work on the project was discontinued again in June 2011, primarily due to financial constraints. There was an allocation of Rs 164 million under the 2010-11 PSDP but most of the funds had not been released.

Being one of the longest tunnels in Asia, the Lowari Tunnel is of great national importance and will contribute to the socio-economic wellbeing of the area. After its completion, rich mineral and other natural resources of the area can be exploited, which will promote trade. Lowari Tunnel is situated in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, connecting Dir and Chitral Valley.

The idea of tunnel was originally conceived in 1956 and work on it began in September 1975, but was stopped in 1977 due to lack of funds and other development priorities. The work on the tunnel could not restart until September 2005. When completed the tunnel will reduce the current 14-hour drive from Chitral to Peshawar by 50 per cent.

Courtesy: Pak Observer

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