JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) says construction work on the second Kabul-Jalalabad highway has been sluggish due to security problems in Hesarak, Sherzad and Khogyani districts of Nangarhar province.
Financed by the Asian Development Bank, construction work on the 150-kilometer highway was launched on September 14, 2010.
The highway is divided into two parts — a 50-kilometer portion from Spira Kandaw area of Azra district of Logar province and 100 kilometers from Dua Saraka area of Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar — but only 32 kilometers of the road from Kabul and 33 kilometers from Nangarhar side could be asphalted so far.
The work has been slow on a 85-kilometer portion of the road passing through Khogyani, Sherzad and Hesarak districts of Nangarhar and Azra district of Logar province.
However, Nangarhar officials say the project faces no problems in the province. Local tribal elders and provincial council of Nangarhar also say there is no obstacle to the project and they have talked with insurgents not to create problems.
Mohammad Ashraf Haqshna, deputy spokesman of MoPW, told Pajhwok Afghan News that construction of the highway had been slow-going due to security reasons but the ministry was now trying to continue work on the project.
The first part of the highway from Kabul, which is 32 kilometers, was constructed at a cost of around $69.94 million while the second part from Nangarhar side, which is 33 kilometers, cost around $109 million, he said.
Haq Shnas said the ADB had suspended budget for 85 kilometers of the highway after finding the construction work as idle, but the bank again assured the budget for the remaining part.
He said another hurdle to the highway construction was acquisition of people’s land on the route, which was a responsibility of the Afghan government.
The land for 54 kilometers of the highway has been acquisitioned but 11 kilometers area was yet to be cleared, he added.
A new survey was currently under way to develop plan for construction of the rest of the road and land acquisition, he said.
ADB branch in Afghanistan confirmed they had no problem in providing budget to the project but they could not give it now as MoPW had told them there were security issues during construction of the highway.
An official of the bank in an email to Pajhwok Afghan News said that the bank was ready to provide budget for the remaining 85 kilometers, but the government should remove security issues first.
On the other hand, Nangarhar officials say there are no security problems for implementation of the project and efforts are on for solving land acquisition and social related issues.
Governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, said that Governor Ziaul Haq Amarkhel was trying to get work resumed on the remaining part of the highway which passed in Nangarhar province.
Nangarhar provincial council’s deputy head, Ajmal Omar, who is a resident of Shirzad district, said there were no security problems for the implementation of the project.
He said some figures inside the government were making excuses to stop the project from being implemented.
Civil society activists are also trying to help pave way for construction of the project.
Lalgul Lal, a civil society activist in Nangarhar, said they had been trying since last few months and had discussed with parliament members to encourage MoPW to resume work on the project.
Malak Aslma Khan, a tribal elder from Shirzad district, said they had assured the government about security of the project and had also talked with local insurgents who had assured them of not creating problems for the road construction.
Malak Zabihullah, a tribal elder from Khogyani district, also said they would cooperate with the government in implementation of the second Kabul-Jalalabad highway.
Kabul-Jalalabad’s current highway, which passes through Laghman province, usually witness traffic jams due to high number of vehicles.
Officials say the second highway will be used only for long transit vehicles and the current one will be used for passenger cars.