GILGIT: The Northern Areas Transport Corporation (Natco) will install cameras on Karakoram Highway (KKH) to ensure security for passengers, official sources told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
“The movement of passenger buses on the KKH and other Natco vehicles via this highway will be monitored for safety,” said an official privy to the development. Natco is sponsored by the Gilgit-Balistan (G-B) government and is the largest transport company in G-B. It provides bus and jeep services across the region and to the rest of the country as well as to China.
“The cameras will also help overcome corruption in transportation of wheat to the region,” said the official, referring to allegations that marred Natco and civil supply department “for stealing and selling wheat to others enroute to Gilgit”.
The official added that he was not aware of the number of cameras likely to be fixed on the route. However, a complete record of all the Natco vehicles travelling on the route will be maintained in the department.
According to a recent report, police recovered more than 1,000 bags of wheat stolen from Natco buses somewhere in Kohistan. The driver is still in police custody, sources said. The wheat was being supplied to G-B as part of its annual quota of 1.5 million bags.
“It is a million rupee project and the results will be wonderful,” the official said.
Natco is also set to launch a passenger boat service over Attabad Lake. Boats will be in limited numbers, but unlike the present boats, they will be safe for the voyage, he added.
Sources said that Natco Managing Director Zafar Iqbal, who was recently promoted to grade 21 on the recommendation of the Natco Board of Directors, has made efforts to turn the corporation into a profitable organisation. Iqbal has been heading Natco for the past 20 years.
By Shabbir Mir
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2011.