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November 6, 2014

Bridge brings joy to remote villages in Chitral

November 6, 2014

CHITRAL: About 200 households of landlocked Sarghuz village have heaved a sigh of relief as a bridge that connected the area with rest of the district has been rebuilt after four years.
Constructed at a cost of Rs6.5 million, the 120 feet long bridge has been completed within 10 months. Another bridge was constructed in Sweer in lower Chitral.An official said 20 percent money for the bridge in Sarghuz was contributed by the local community and the rest was provided by the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) under its European Union-funded Peace Project.
He said the Sarghuz Bridge had been damaged in 2009 and they had lost all hopes. Following the loss of the bridge, he said, the villagers had to go to Mastuj village, located some 10 kilometers away, to buy essential items.
SRSP Chief Executive Officer Masoodul Mulk opened the bridge amid applause of people, who had gathered at the place in large numbers. The CEO said that the bridges belonged to the communities, adding that they would have to take care of its maintenance themselves. He urged the people to strengthen participatory approach in their area to pave the way for development. He said that hopefully the locals would exhibit such unity in future as well.
The SRSP CEO suggested that timber should not be transported through the bridge to ensure its long life. The area residents had observed hunger strikes several times to demand reconstruction of the suspension bridge, which was destroyed by a boulder four years ago.
“Only SRSP staff came to our rescue and saved us from constant embarrassment,” said Sadat Jan, a local community activist.A girl, a student of grade-10, said the parents had stopped sending wards to schools owing to the dilapidated condition of road and non-availability of a jeepable bridge.
Nagina Jan, another student of grade 10, said she was fond of education but the daily four hours two-way walk made her sick.“We had to go to reach our schools and colleges after

walking for hours on foot,” said Nagina Jan.
Manager of the PEACE Project Engineer Zahid Khan, district program manager of SRSP Tariq Ahmed and other officials were also present on the occasion.Tariq said the bridge could also be used by people of Laspur valley as well as Gilgit-Baltistan in case of emergency.
Earlier, another suspension bridge was inaugurated at Sweer in Lower Chitral, which was completed by SRSP at a cost Rs8.6 million.The project was funded by a German agency, KFW, through Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.
The Sweer Bridge connects the villages of Sweer, Nagar, Nagar Pati, Jinjirat and the border village of Arsoon.Speaking on the occasion, Chitral’s deputy commissioner, Aminul Haq, lauded the credibility SRSP enjoyed in the community because of its track record.

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