WFP Convoy on route from Sukkur to Jacobabad in Pakistan. Copyright: WFP/Ahmad AlAssad
Pakistan’s Sindh province has been one of the most severely affected areas by the floods as the Indus River runs through it. In it, the route from Sukkur to Jacobabad has been a significant logistical bottleneck for the emergency response operation. Food assistance could be trucked to Sukkur from the port in Karachi and elsewhere, but the route from Sukkur to Jacobabad was completely cut-off by the floods waters.
For these reason, lent and chartered C-130s cargo planes and helicopters were used to airlift urgently required life-saving assistance to many cut off areas in the Sindh province, including Jacobabad, as this earlier September story from the field tells. But these deliveries were smaller than the requirement, therefore WFP needed to ensure demands were met and assess all available possibilities to deliver food aid.
So in late September, considering the shifting flood water levels and satellite imagery, WFP Logistics launched a reconnaissance mission to size up the possibility of moving trucks along the route between Sukkur and Jacobabad, a distance of 87 km. The road conditions were still difficult, rehabilitation work for some 2 km was underway and another 6 km still submerged in 4 feet of water. Despite the odds, WFP logistics decided to mount a test convoy the following day.
As convoy leader, Logistics Officer Ahmad AlAssad, spoke to us about the experience. ‘Five WFP trucks (Hino) carrying 16 mt of rice left Sukkur early morning headed for Jacobobad. Reaching the floodwaters, there was real doubt as to whether the trucks could forge the flooded sections of the road. The water level in some places was as high as 80 cm. It felt like we were on a boat in the middle of the sea. Some transporters had been reluctant to attempt the crossing.’
Originally in the WFP land cruiser leading the convoy, Ahmad had to leave the cruiser just 30 km into the journey due to the road conditions and continue the trip in one of the trucks. It was at this spot that some of the transporters stopped themselves, not fully convinced the WFP convoy would make it.
‘The convoy nevertheless forged ahead. Eventually it made it through. The journey took eight hours. All five trucks were accounted for and the WFP food assistance was delivered to Jacobabad for distribution to affected people who had until then been cut off by road.’
Since then, the land-route from Sukkur to Jacobabad has once again been opened for humanitarian assistance.
Many thanks to Ahmad AlAssad for his story. Great work, guys!!!