KALAM (Swat): There seems to be no end to the woes of thousands of people in upper Swat as well as tourists coming from all over the country to the picturesque valley as the long-awaited 35 kilometres Bahrain-Kalam Road is unlikely to be completed even next year.
Residents and government officials told The News that the delay is apparently due to local political circumstances. The Bahrain-Kalam road was washed away by the devastating floods in 2010 that cut off upper Swat for several weeks from the rest of the country. It links several tourist spots in upper Swat including Bahrain, Kedam, Mankiyal, Kalam, Gabral, Utror, Ushu, Mataltan and the famous Maho Dandh Lake.
The district administration and residents later managed to repair parts of the damaged road so that it could be used by vehicles. After seven years of long struggle and protest rallies by the residents of upper Swat and hoteliers, the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government approved Rs3.5 billion for the re-construction of the road.
The PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa President Amir Muqam, who remained federal minister also, had inaugurated the road construction project in May 2017. It was supposed to be completed in two years.
Before this, the same road project was announced several times by local politicians. Many people were unsure that the road would be built as they suspected that since elections were close, the PML-N leader Amir Muqam was attempting to get sympathies of the people.
However, the federal government fulfilled its commitment and provided funds for the road. Frequent inaugurations of the road in the past had disappointed the people and when it was inaugurated in May 2017, they insisted they would take it seriously when machinery arrives and work is started.
The excitement of the people was visible when they saw heavy machinery being transported to Swat as they believed their suffering would end once the road is built. The construction work didn’t stop even in winter but the government, particularly the National Highway Authority (NHA) could not honour its promise.