More Than Bricks & Mortar
67-year-old Abdul Manan has lived in Gara Pathar village in KP most of his life. He is aware of the critical need of an access road and how it facilitates access to social services. “We had been struggling for decades, this road has given us hope. we faced a lot of problems, especially in the rainy season. we had to carry patients on our shoulders right up to the main road to get them to hospitals. There are many tribes in the village but they unanimously agree that roads and streets are a common need. We are very happy that the government has constructed this access road, although we also need to build adjacent streets as it is hard to come out from houses in the rain. The streets become so muddy, it’s impossible to step in the muddy water”.
Surat Khan, a 76-year-old village elder, happily carries fodder for his animals along the newly-built access road. “We are grateful to the government for this road. Before this, it was difficult for us to get to adjacent villages, especially in the rain. Getting basic facilities in this village has been a dream for decades. Thank God it came true”.
Young Said Khan is an auto-driver. For him, the road has opened livelihood opportunities “The road has brought economic activity to the village. I have purchased a ‘chingchi (auto rickshaw) and go back and forth from the village to the main road and sometimes up to the main city Tank. This all-weather road means people are connected. I have my own source of income and earn a handsome amount for myself and my family”.
Access to social services has been a widely acknowledged benefit of the new road. “More people can go to the hospital for treatment because people have a safe road that can be used in all weather conditions. People once suffered at home, or died in transit. They can now reach a medical facility” says Attaullah, Chairperson of community-based organization (CBO) Star Community. Pregnant women prefer to deliver in the hospital, this has reduced maternal and infant mortality rates in the village.”
Abdur Rasheed, CBO General Secretary adds “Poor connectivity has been the main cause of poverty, impeding economic growth in rural areas. Earlier, inhabitants of this deprived village faced a lot of difficulties while carrying patients to the hospital in the city and a number of people died on the way.”
Muhammad Rizwan is a grade four student in Government Primary School for Boys, Gara Pathar. He smiles as he appreciates the benefits “I am very happy as students can go to school in all weather conditions. It was almost impossible for us to step out from our houses in the rain because of the muddy water outside. We would miss school in the rainy season but now attend school regularly and in a clean uniform.”
Ghulam Shabir appreciates the connectivity “The road has connected rural communities to markets, district headquarters, and other centers of economic activity leading to the socio-economic development of this area. Earlier, many relied on earth tracks, unsuitable for motorized traffic and impassable during the rainy season. But, now we have a road and life has become much easier for us.”
Others resonate the sentiment “This is the first development activity we have seen in the last fifty years. It was really very hard for us to even go to the mosque to offer prayers in the rainy season. Due to faster access to the market, I can get a better price for my crops. With frequent trips, I can feel the pulse of the market and sell my goods only if I get a good price.” says Razi Khan, a 58-year-old local farmer.
The construction of the new road has enabled people to find jobs, commute to work and school and access healthcare quickly and safely. It has also encouraged farmers to grow high-value crops, and enabled them to transport their produce to the market, keeping it fresh and in good condition. Public transport has been provided to connect villages. The road has opened new avenues for the villagers and has meant much more to them than just bricks and mortar.