Ban on tourists’ entry to Murree extended | The Express Tribune


RAWALPINDI:

The National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) has extended the ban on tourists’ entrance to Murree for five more days.

With the Pakistan Meteorological Department predicting another bout of heavy snowfall in the coming days, the NH&MP have decided to extend the ban until January 17.

The ban in question had come into effect after tragedy struck in Murree, when 23 tourists caught in a blizzard lost their lives in their cars that were stuck in the snowdrift for several hours.

Meanwhile, the ban entered its fifth day on Tuesday with roads still closed for tourists. Work to retrieve vehicles—buried in the snow after tourists fled on foot to safer grounds—was still under way. The civil administration and Pakistan Army are making joint efforts to remove snow from connecting roads as well.

The roads leading from Murree to several surrounding villages are still blocked due to the snow, with power outages compounding problems for locals.

The movement of heavy goods transport via Murree to Muzaffarabad is also closed, leading to a shortage of food items, petrol and diesel.

On the other hand, investigation into the Murree tragedy continues, with Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar vowing to take appropriate action in the light of law against those found guilty of negligence.

Chief Secretary Punjab Kamran Ali Afzal paid a detailed visit to Murree, reviewing arrangements made for clearing the snow and maintaining the traffic flow at Lower Topa, Jhika Gali, Kuldana and other points.

Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi Muhammad Ali, Regional Police Officer Ashfaq Ahmed Khan and City Police Officer Sajid Kayani were issued orders to ensure that the remaining snow be removed before the next wave of snowfall and heavy machinery be transferred to choking points to prevent a repetition of the incident.

The Chief Secretary conveyed instructions for the designation of safe places to shift future tourists in case of another episode of heavy snowfall. He also gave directives for the establishment of three check posts leading to the entrance of Murree, and insisted on the necessity to turn back cars exceeding the capacity of the city to accommodate them.

A spokesman for the district administration said that from January 7 to 11, as many as 9,800 packets of premade food were distributed among the tourists still in the area. Additionally, 9,500 bundles of blankets and dry fruit were also circulated.

The district administration and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority are also busy conducting surveys to assess food shortage in the remote areas of Murree. Around 1,100 ration packets of 20kg each have already been prepared, which will be distributed among the local population.

Power being restored

Islamabad Electric Supply Company’s (IESCO) power distribution system was badly affected due to the recent snowfall and stormy weather in and around Murree, Nathiagali, Patriata and Jhika Gali.

As a result, 15 feeders from the 132 KV grid station in Murree and three feeders supplying power to IESCO from 132 KV grid station Minhasa were disrupted.

Under the supervision of IESCO Chief Executive Dr Muhammad Amjad Khan, teams from Operations, GSO and Construction Directorate started work on time to restore the system in spite of bad weather and traffic jams.

At present, IESCO’s Power Distribution System has been 90% restored due to which Barian, Upper Topa, Patriata, Kohala, Sunny Bank, Public Health, MCM, Kuldana, Company Bagh, Pindi Point, Gharial, Barut, Gharial-2 and Nimble feeders and surrounding areas has been restored.

An IESCO spokesperson has requested consumers to reach out with any individual grievance they may be experiencing, as the operation staff is present in their respective offices to address it.

Customers can also contact the relevant SDO office for registration and redressal of individual complaint, IESCO Helpline 118 or Complaint and Monitoring Cell IESCO Islamabad on 051-9252933.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2022.




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