Highway to nowhere–Flood Water Still Standing Everywhere In South

Highway to nowhere

An area of land surrounded by flood water is pictured from a rescue helicopter operated by the Pakistani army near Dadu, Sindh province, Pakistan, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

JACOBABADFloodwater might be receding from most areas in the province but the Sindh-Balochistan National Highway still stands flooded.

Two months ago a massive breach developed in the Tori Bund and water rushed towards Jacobabad district, flooding almost 80 per cent of it. When the flood got too close to Jacobabad city, a cut was made in the National Highway to divert the water away from the city. The water went in a different direction and Jacobabad was saved. But more than 60 days later, the highway has yet to be repaired. Road links between the two provinces are still suspended and thousands of transporters and passengers have been affected.

“I appeal to the government to restore the Sindh-Balochistan road like they restored the Shikarpur-Jacobabad road,” said a resident, Yasir Sheikh.

Meanwhile, there is still two to four feet of water on Quetta Road. Long lines of cars are stuck on the road for hours due to the deplorable state of the road. Moreover, transporters claim that the condition of the road is the reason for more and more accidents and also a source of monetary losses for them.

“Vehicles have to pass through the water and sometimes the water gets into the engines or even inside. We lose hundreds of thousands of rupees because of this but the government does nothing,” said Gulzar, a driver of a passenger coach.

Thousands of people evacuated their homes in Jacobabad district when the floods hit. Most of them are living in relief camps across Sindh while some are in Balochistan. Almost all have been unable to return to their villages because of the bad condition of the road.

Repairs have begun from the bypass but the Jacobabad DCO seemed less than pleased with the pace of the work. “Although the work has started from the Jacobabad bypass, repairs fromBalochistan side will be a problem,” prophesied DCO Sajjad Jamal Abro.

Seven kilometres (km) of the 50-km long highway have been affected badly by the flood. Because of damaged road links, transporters too have jacked up their fares and people are being charged almost double to get to where they want.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2010.