PESHAWAR: Residents of Nowshera Kalan and surrounding areas have asked the Pakistan Railways authorities and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to repair and utilise the British-era Railway Bridge on the River Kabul for traffic and pedestrians as it is no more used by passenger trains.
Opened on December 1, 1903 the railway bridge on the river in Nowshera had linked the northern parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Peshawar and rest of Pakistan till the construction of a new bridge on the Nowshera-Mardan Road in the 1980s.
The iron bridge, locally known as Sur Pull (red bridge), facilitated the trains, trucks and buses and local people to cross the river for decades. The sides of the iron bridge were specified for the pedestrians while a metallic road on the bridge was used by light and heavy vehicles at the time when train would not cross the bridge.
Haji Abdul Sattar Khan, resident of Nowshera Kalan, said thousands of local people crossed the bridge daily while going and coming from Nowshera Cantonment till recent past but the devastating floods damaged the side fences and cement slabs meant for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Many people including children cross the bridge on foot but it is no less than adventure than walking on death ropes as the wooden fences and cement slabs are broken at many places,” he said. He added that repair of these fences and holes would require a small fund.
Abdul Jabbar Khan, belonging to Gunbad Shah Baba village in Nowshera Kalan, said the re-functioning of the bridge would facilitate hundreds of local people who need to report for jobs, do business or run personal errands to cross the river between Nowshera Kalan and Nowshera Cantonment.
“As the bridge is no more used by trains, it should also be opened to small vehicles, cycles and cycle-rickshaws,” Abdul Jabbar said. “As the federal minister for railways belongs to Peshawar and his party (ANP) was leading the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it would be a positive step on the part of Pakistan Railways to utilise the iron bridge for general public and traffic,” he stressed.
The residents of Nowshera Kalan said the local leaders of Awami National Party and other political parties had promised to open the bridge for the common people
and build new bridges on the river Kabul at certain places but they forgot their promises after being voted to power.