JALALABAD (Pajhwok): As the Kabul-Jalalabad highway remained closed against traffic for the past one week following rockslides, commuters say the government should complete the highway’s second lane.
The Kabul-Jalalabad second lane starts from Sararud district of Nangarhar and passes through Khogyani, Sherzad and Hesarak districts and reaches Kabul.
Construction of the 150-kilometer road was started in 2010 at a cost of 111 million dollars from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), but the lane could not be completed so far.
From Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, a 30-km portion of the second lane has been completed and from Kabul, a 32-km portion has been completed.
Musa Khan, a driver on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway, said he faced many problems since a week while traveling to Kabul.
“The road opens for a short time and vehicles move on a subway that is very busy, but when the road is blocked, we either go through Lata Band route or through Kapisa, which is very problematic”.
Mohammad Shirin Sapi, who returned from Kabul to Jalalabad, said although the authorities had announced last night the road would be closed, many vehicles reached there early in the morning and they were allowed to proceed after enduring a lot of trouble.
The Nangarhar Information and Culture department has announced that the road would remain shut until the debris is removed and asked vehicles to travel on alternative routes.
A number of Nangarhar residents and social activists have started a campaign on Facebook to urge the government to resume work on the Kabul-Jalalabad second lane.
Hamdullah Tolo, once the Director of Public Works, asked people to join the national campaign on Facebook. “Mahipar is very complicated road that is often shut for hours due to landslides, traffic jams and accidents.”
Maulvi Yar Mohammad Mohammadi, Nangarhar Public Works director, told Pajhwok that the Asia Development Bank had repeatedly promised to complete the remaining works of the road, but was yet to take practical steps.
He said talks with the ADB had progressed, but if it did not provide the budget, alternative ways would be considered.
“We have tried out best. The process is ongoing, but its positive and negative aspect is not yet known. Talks are ongoing. About 70 percent of the talks have been completed. The bank has given assurance to the Ministry of Finance, but is yet to confirm the transfer of fund.”
After the Islamic Emirate’s return to power, the Nangarhar public works department started initial works of the second lane with its own resources, but stopped the works later.