KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Members of the provincial council, tribal elders and civil society activists on Wednesday urged President Ashraf Ghani to pay serious attention to addressing problems plaguing the electricity, education and economic sectors of southern Kandahar province.
The president, who arrived in Kandahar City, the provincial capital, attended a gathering at the governor’s house.
Besides Cabinet ministers, provincial civil and military officials, tribal elders, religious scholars and youth representatives took part in the gathering.
At the start, the governor of Kandahar spoke and said his administration had launched a strict anti-corruption campaign over the past eight months to make provincial departments answerable to the masses.
To narrow the gap between the government and the people, the governor said they had established a consultative board involving tribal elders, religious scholars, women and youth tasked with giving advices to government officials and monitoring their activities.
He also talked about projects which had recently been launched and said investors and traders needed government’s support in reviving factories and making investments.
The governor claimed a historic improvement had been achieved in the security of the province.
The provincial council chief, Haji Syeda Jan Khakrezwal, urged the president to complete the half-constructed Hazrat Omar Farooq mosque in Kandahar City and intensify construction work on the 16.5 km road between Kandahar city and the airport.
Kandahar chamber of commerce and industry chief Haji Nasrullah Zaheer said first of all the issue of electricity should be resolved, saying only 65 of 200 factories in Kandahar were operational due to power shortage.
He said traders were ready to revive textile factories which had previously employed 15,000 people but now they had been closed.
Women’s affairs director Ruqia Achakzai thanked the president and the first lady for their efforts that led to the establishment of a fund for women.
She called for timely investigation into cases of women prisoners and the construction of an exclusive market for women’s handicrafts.
Speaking on youth behalf, civil society activist Gul Ahmad Kamin said the TAPI gas pipeline project had a huge importance for Kandahar and hurdles in the way of its implementation should be removed. Besides other demands, he said the education sector should be strengthened and businessmen provided more facilities.
In response, President Ghani said he was happy that security had become a secondary issue in Kandahar and 90 percent people present at the gathering talked about other aspects of life. He particularly thanked the security forces for improving security in Kandahar with people’s support.
Ghani said municipalities in Kandahar, Nangarhar, Herat and Balkh provinces would be granted special powers and similarly loans would be issued for some important projects.
For good governance and development, the president said, governors and ministers had entered written agreements and both sides were answerable to each other.
He promised to complete the Omar Farooq mosque and the Kandahar airport road, saying the two projects had passed the procurement phase and the stalled works would be resumed.
The president said a 10 megawatts solar power system would be launched soon and the project had been opened to bids. He said they had talked to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase the capacity of Kajaki hydropower dam to 110 megawatts.
He said power cables carrying 500 megawatts of electricity from western Herat province to Spin Boldak town of Kandahar would be stretched as part of the TAPI project.
The president said he had discussed with Pakistan the construction of a railroad between Spin Boldak and Kandahar City. He said Pakistan would construct 11 kilometres of the rail track inside their country and the rest would be constructed by the Afghan government.
He said talks with the World Bank had been initiated to launch the second phase of Dahla Dam’s reconstruction including raising the dam’s wall by eight metres.
He also said nine airports of the country would be converted into economic zones, which would enable Afghan traders to increase their exports.