More people leave for Murree as stranded tourists ‘walk’ back thumbnail

More people leave for Murree as stranded tourists ‘walk’ back

Murree on Monday presented a deserted look as a large number of tourists left the city on Saturday evening and Sunday, after the roads were reopened and people were able to drive their vehicles out of the hill station.

The Murree-Islamabad Expressway was busy from Saturday evening onwards.

However, people without their personal transport had to travel in buses and vans provided by the local authorities. These vehicles left them at the Satra Meel Toll Plaza near Islamabad.

The tourists then walked several kilometres, carrying their children and luggage.

The pictures of tourists walking back to Islamabad went viral on Monday with claims that they had made the journey from Murree on foot. 

But the reality was different.

The government-provided vehicles left the tourists at the toll plaza because the ban on the entry of vehicles from Satra Meel Toll Plaza to the Murre Expressway is still in place. This has created a massive traffic jam on the other side of the toll plaza as hundreds of people coming from the direction of Islamabad are trying to move beyond the Satra Meel Toll Plaza to go to Murree. 

The fact that 22 people perished in the snowstorm has not deterred them.

There were reports on Sunday that some people coming from Islamabad travelled on foot to move beyond the toll plaza and then took vehicles on the other side for an onward journey to Murree.

The local administration has been instructed to allow only people with local addresses on their ID documents beyond this point.

The ban on the entry of non-locals was scheduled to expire at 9pm on Monday, but Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has extended it for another 24 hours.

An announcement from his Twitter handle said that the ban on travel to Murree and Galiyat would be lifted only after another review.

Owners wait for buried vehicles

Meanwhile, in Murree, a few dozen tourists were waiting for their vehicles to be pulled out of snow. 

The tourists have refused to leave Murree without their cars, BBC Urdu reported on Monday adding that renewed snowfall on Monday has hampered the efforts.

The authorities were negotiating with a local company to recover the vehicles but no progress was seen, said the BBC.

The vehicles were parked outside the hotels and were covered with several feet of snow.

Vehicles trapped on roads have already been freed by rescuers.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairperson Lt-General Akhtar Nawaz on Sunday told SAMAA TV that around 77 vehicles were buried in snow at the Kuldana Road where most of the deaths occurred during the snowstorm on Friday night.

Punjab government to act against unfair prices

The Punjab government on Monday formed a three-member committee to act against unfair prices and hotel rents in Murree.

The committee will review hotel rents, registration and other issues.

It will also come up with a mechanism to issue effecitve travel advisories, SAMAA TV reported.

The Punjab government has already announced key reforms for Murree, including granting it the status of a district.

The new district could be named Kohisar, officials said on Monday.

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