Bridge collapse deprives farmers of income

Bridge collapse deprives farmers of income

Weekly Bang-e-sahar karachi Saturday, August 30, ——September 5, 2008
By A Reporter
HUNZA: The collapse of the main bridge on Karakoram Highway connecting Hunza, Nagar and other parts of Gilgit district has resulted in sharp decrease in the prices of potato creating frustration among the farmers.
Potato is the main source of income for the local farming community.
According to the farmers, the price of potato has reduced from Rs2,000 per bag to Rs1,400 per bag.
The potato contractors, political activists and representatives of farmers of Hunza and Nagar valley held a meeting in Aliabad and criticised the police for creating obstacles in transporting the commodity to other areas. They said the police allowed heavy trucks carrying Chinese goods after allegedly taking huge bribe but stopped the vehicles carrying potatoes from crossing the alternative suspension bridges.
They said heavy trucks carrying wheat of civil supply and oil tankers were also allowed to cross the bridges. They said contractors have stopped purchasing potatoes due to shortage of trucks and high transportation costs.
A potato contractor from Hunza told this correspondent that the cost of transportation before the collapse of the bridge was Rs180 per bag from Aliabad to Rawalpindi which has now increased to Rs410 per bag.
An additional Rs60 per bag is paid for loading and unloading of the commodity on both sides of the wooden bridges.
After the collapse of the main bridge, traffic was diverted to Gilgit through a bridge constructed by a Chinese firm to transport the heavy machinery of Naltar power house. The wooden bridges that connect Konadas with Gilgit are also in poor condition. In case of the collapse of these wooden bridges, there is no alternative route to supply daily-use items to Hunza, Nagar and other parts of Gilgit.
The local community has threatened that if the local administration did not take action against the police and failed to make alternative transport arrangements, they would hold a long march from Hunza to Gilgit.

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