MINGORA: Despite tall claims by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Swat district administration, the tourists who thronged the hill stations of Kalam and Malam Jabba experienced multiple problems during the Eid days.
Most of the tourists spent sleepless nights on the main Bahrain- Kalam Road and Manglawar-Malam Jabba Road due to the worst traffic jam, rush of people and dilapidated roads.
The tourists complained of the steep rise in room rents at hotels in Kalam and Bahrain.” The hoteliers in Kalam are charging Rs 10,000 to 20,000 per room. This is unusual”, said 45-year old Abdul Rahman Sial, a tourist from Rawalpindi. He said many tourists failed to find rooms in hotels at Kalam and were compelled to spend sleepless nights on the roads.
“In Ramazan, we made a plan to visit Swat during Eidul Fitr. It took us 11 hours to cover the 35 kilometers long road from Bahrain to Kalam. It was exhausting,” said 25-year old Shafiqa from Lahore. She added it was the most tiresome journey of her life.
District Police Officer Syed Ashfaq told this scribe that 1,700 policemen had been deployed in various part of Swat to facilitate tourists. He said that during the first three days of Eid over 80,000 vehicles carrying more than 400,000 tourists entered Swat valley. “The locals of Swat valley should avoid unnecessary movements on roads so that we may provide better facilities to the tourists,” he argued.
Some tourists complained about the poor traffic management and lack of facilities. “We were 10 people from a family in two cars, including three females and four kids, going to the scenic valley of Kalam, and were stuck up in the traffic jam on Bahrain-Kalam Road in Peshmal area. There was no one from the administration to help us,” said Lahore’s 65-year old Khalid Mahmood.
He said that when they reached Kalam the hoteliers fleeced them. “A normal two-bed room cost us Rs 10,000. This used to be provided to us in the past for Rs3,000,” he added.
A tourist from Multan, Zafar Naqvi, told this scribe that while returning from Kalam they left at 6 am and reached Bahrain at 4 pm after a long and tiring drive due to traffic jams. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had failed to build roads and infrastructure in Swat. The tourists who flocked to another spot, Malam Jabba, faced almost the same situation. Momina Babar Jadoon left Mingora city at 11 am on the way to Malam Jabba and it took her 10 hours to cover the distance. “We were four women and I can’t explain the pain that we faced during this troublesome journey,” she recalled.
She complained that the Swat district government failed to check the rents of the hotel and the food prices at restaurants. “We were charged Rs7,000 for a room in an average hotel,” she pointed out.