JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The Public Works Ministry says it has stopped surveying the Kabul-Jalalabad second highway due to security reasons but local people and officials say there is no security problem on the route and the ministry is making excuses to delay its construction.
Local residents, officials and provincial council members say they have assured providing security for the road and there are no any threats left with recent operations conducted in the area.
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 85-kilometer portion of the road passing through Khogyani, Sherzad and Hesarak districts of Nangarhar and Azra district of Logar province was recently promised land acquisition and survey.
Three days back, Nangarhar deputy governor, Babrak Miakhel in a Facebook post said that land acquisition process on the remaining part of the road would start in the near future.
However, the public works ministry a day later in a statement said that the survey of the route has been stopped three weeks ago due to security problems.
The statement said that the ministry sent five technical teams to the highway area in coordination with the local administration and councils on January 23 for land acquisition and survey.
The source said that the teams were able to complete the survey of 23 kilometers portion of the second part of the road, but the land acquisition process was yet to be completed due to security reasons and lack of cooperation from Nangarhar governor’s house and local people on the regard.
The ministry said it could not complete the survey and land acquisition processes if the local administration did not cooperate.
On the other hand, local people and officials say that insecurity is only an excuse made by the ministry and there are currently no security threats on the highway.
Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani told Pajhwok Afghan News that there was no security problem in the province and both the people and the local administration were cooperating in implementing the project.
He said that the Nangarhar governor has shared all information about security measures on the highway with the public works ministry and there were no any threats right now.
Gen. Jumma Gul Himmat, Nangarhar police chief, also told Pajhwok that there was no security problem on the second highway between Kabul and Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province.
A few months back when there were some security issues in Hesarak and Shirzad districts, Afghan forces launched operations and security was restored in the areas, he said.
Nangarhar deputy Provincial Council Head Ajmal Omar who belongs to the Hesarak district said that all people in his district were cooperating in the project implementation and security.
Lalgul Lal, head of East Development Working Group said that the Ministry of Public Works had neglected implementation of the highway project over the last seven years.
He said that the local administration of Nangarhar and parliament members also did not raise their voice for the project.
Local officials and public works ministry officials earlier discussed that work on the highway would be resumed in three days, but the ministry later announced suspension of work, he said.
Local people asked officials concerned to accelerate work on the land acquisition and survey to pave way for practical work on the highway construction.
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.