The Highway of Troubles

Sirtaj Baloch Rakhshani
Whenever one hears the name “Balochistan”, one’s mind diverts to the natural resources. Be it gold or copper, coal, or gas, the province is blessed with all the essential resources. Besides natural resources, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is often perceived to be the bright future for Balochistan and its poor people. This Project, which is a part of China’s Built and Road Initiative (BRI), has been in limelight for its regional importance. Apart from this, if one analyses the reality he/she will find the resource-rich Balochistan at the last category in every aspect of life. Be it stagnated-economy, wide-spread corruption, increasing terrorism, inflation, low literacy rate, gender disparity or extreme poverty, the province has been in complete chaos. Especially the vulnerability of the infrastructure, highways, and roads has been growing. Let me take you through a bumpy road to have a fair analysis of the infrastructural decay.
Amid the rapidly increasing cases of novel Corona Virus, Hub Chowki, the industrial city of Lasbela district, was at the verge of virus outbreak initially. Without other options in hand, my family had to leave for their native city, Awaran. Inaccessibility to internet left me with no choice other than jotting down the travelogue on my return to Hub city. Reaching Awaran was as hard as an ‘acrobat’ trying to walk over a rope hanging above an abyss. Awaran road adjoins the RCD Highway (National Highway N25)—the highway which is itself a deathtrap—at Bela. Each time I travel to Awaran, the journey gets longer and more tiresome. Generally, the roads need to be renovated after a particular period of time, but the road has been left untouched since it was constructed decades ago.
Awaran is a district situated to the south of the Province. It was approved as a separate district in November 1992. Previously it was a sub-division of Khuzdar District. The old name of Awaran was Kolwa. District Awaran covers Maskhay, Jhaoo and Awaran. Awaran is the least developed district of Balochistan given the negligence and corruption of successive governments. A big chunk of population relies on agriculture and transport for earning.
Similarly, the importance of highways and roads in expanding economy and prosperity of a region is well-known. Especially, for a good transport system, proper roads and highways are of vital importance. Unfortunately, Balochistan suffers from many in​tracta​ble problems laid in the path of its progress. The Bela-Hoshab road is now less than an opportunity of prosperity for Awaran, but it has now been converted into a trap that leads towards death. Each year, when heavy rains lash the District, heavy floods and rivers rip the road apart and there is no proper system to save the road from floods. The broken bridges and potholed roads have now become the cause of rapidly increasing accidents and casualties. Every year, we lose hundreds of precious lives due to fatal accidents.
Besides, the road has also affected the economy and progress of Awaran too. As mentioned above, transport is the livelihood of the major portion of the Awaran’s population. Given the vulnerable condition of the road, it takes the transporters more than a day or two for the conveyance of their goods, which consumes much time and drains resources, to a particular city.
Apart from this, there are no rescue services for emergency cases, nor is there any proper medical facility available at District Headquarters’ Hospital—the only hospital in Awaran District. Critical patients are referred to Karachi. And, most of the patients succumb to death after enduring the long and tiresome journey. Furthermore, the broken and fully potholed road has also been a reason in the increase in maternal mortality rate, as the unfortunate patients breathe their last before reaching to any hospital in Karachi because of the lack of facilities in Awaran. Surprisingly, if one develops the symptoms of Corona Virus, his/her blood sample needs to be sent to Karachi as district healthcare facilities lack testing kits.
The incumbent government should face the reality and listen to the plea of the poor people of Balochistan and let the practical work serve the masses not the promises.
The writer is a student who hails from Awaran
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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