ISLAMABAD - Work on Lowari road tunnel project on Nowshehra-Chitral Highway (N-45) is likely to be completed by October 2017 subject to availability of adequate funds, said an official of National Highway Authority (NHA).

He said that the work on Lowari Tunnel Project was started in September, 2005 and originally it was envisaged to be completed by September 2008 but its completion period was extended after its conversion to a road tunnel.

To a question, he said that total allocation as per revised PC-1 of the Lowari tunnel was Rs.18.13 billion, out of which Rs 8.3 billion has been incurred so far.

Widening of 4,150 metre has been achieved out of total 8510 metres. Amount of Rs. 9,455 Million has been incurred on the project so far and physical physical progress is 40 per cent. The Lowari Tunnel Project is expected to be completed in October, 2017 subject to availability of funds. The NHA has made arrangements to keep the under-construction tunnel two days a week to facilitate the people of Chitral.

Recorded history shows that the Lowari Tunnel project idea was discussed in the National Assembly of Pakistan by the MNA from Chitral Attalique Jaafar Ali Shah during in early 1970s.

Work on the tunnel began on September 8, 1975 but was stopped in 1977 after change of government on the pretext of lack of funds and other development priorities, work on the tunnel did not restart until September 2005.

The tunnel will reduce the current 14-hour drive from Chitral to Peshawar by 50%. 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 traffic for most part of the year.

Chitral remains virtually inaccessible during the winter; the tunnel will also facilitate all-weather transportation.

A South Korean construction company, SAMBU JV, has been assigned the work on the tunnel. This project is located in KPK and in North East part of the province. The project originates from Tamalgarha and it ends at Lowari Tunnel.

This road is the sole access to Chitral valley and then further leads to Afghanistan.