Economy

Kunduz officials inaugurate city master plan despite looming Taliban threat

By Muhammad Qasem

image

An excavator removes barriers as part of the Kunduz city master plan on July 5. [Rahmat Behroz]

KUNDUZ -- Kunduz officials have launched the first phase of a master plan for expanding Kunduz city, the provincial capital.

The plan, which will expand the western part of the city, includes covering 8km of road with asphalt and building 25 bridges at a estimated cost of 249 million AFN ($3 million), allocated to the project by the Afghan government.

The project will cover the expansion of the road from Azadi Chowk in Bandar-e-Kabul, Kunduz city, to the Do-Saraka area of Kunduz airport, and will include the construction of road medians and sidewalks, acting Kunduz Governor Najibullah Omarkhail told reporters during the inauguration ceremony for the plan July 5.

The 8km-long road is 6 metres wide. Completion of the road and bridge project is expected in 14 months, he said.

The project also includes the repair and restoration of all damaged urban facilities and services, including the water supply system, power lines, fiber optic network, canals and sidewalks, Omarkhail said, adding that the project is critical for the people of Kunduz.

"The urban master plan project was one of the main demands of the residents of Kunduz. It fortunately began today," he said. "With its completion, the western road of Kunduz city will be widened, addressing traffic congestion."

The project will create more than 2,000 jobs, he added.

Most of the houses and land affected by the master plan belong to the Spin Ghar Authority, said Zabihullah Zahid, director of that agency, which falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

"The detailed master plan was prepared in the solar year 1397 (three years ago) and approved by the president," he said. "We deliberately chose a plan that would cause less damage to private shops, land and property."

Those who might suffer negative impact from the project should apply to the governor's office for compensation, he said.

Bringing hope

All vehicles en route to Central Asia from Kabul and other provinces will pass through the route where the master plan is being implemented, said Zabihullah Majidi, a civil society activist in Kunduz province.

"For years, traffic would get jammed for hours and accidents would happen since the road is narrow, but with the completion of this project, many issues faced by the people of the province will be resolved," he said.

Planners designed Kunduz city during the presidency (1973-1978) of Mohammed Daud Khan. Given population growth since then, all the city's roads need expansion, he said.

The launch of the Kunduz city master plan was one of President Ashraf Ghani's campaign promises, Omarkhail noted.

The implementation of other phases of the master plan will follow, he said.

Omarkhail called on the public to co-operate with the government in protecting the project and not to allow the Taliban to destroy roads and public property at the behest of foreigners.

Kunduz residents welcomed the launch of the project and called on the Taliban to end violence and take part in the construction work.

The project is launched at a time when civilians are uncertain about their future, said Abdul Jalil, a resident of Kunduz city.

"The launch of the urban master plan gives us hope for our future in the country."

It's true that there is war, but such development projects provide employment opportunities for Afghan youth, he said.

Such steps by the government make the public optimistic about the future, he added.

Abdul Ali, 47, who has no last name and is employed under the master plan, said he is earning 500 AFN ($6) each day.

"It is a win-win situation -- I earn halal food for my family while building my country," he said.

"Our country will prosper if the Taliban end fighting and violence," he added. "Our people and youth will have jobs, and our youth will not have to leave the country anymore."

Do you like this article?

3 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

Thank you very much for your beautiful report. I am really happy that a very vital and important project was implemented in Afghanistan. With implementation of master plan of Kunduz City, the province will develop and will cause to the tightening of security. Such infrastructural projects can solve the problems of Afghanistan, because the main causes of war and insecurity in this country are poverty and economic problems, and implementation of infrastructural projects solves these problems.

Reply

It is a good news for the noble people of Kunduz Province. People of Kunduz have witnessed bloody wars over the past twenty years. Implementation of the cities' Master Plan and constructing of hydroelectric dams is very important for the progress and development of Afghanistan, because these are among the infrastructural works, and the infrastructural works can free Afghanistan from the need or dependence. Over the past two decades, the international community has spent most of the money on the war in Afghanistan. If foreign countries, especially America, had done fundamental works in Afghanistan, and at least developed the major cities and built basic items' producing factories in Afghanistan, now Afghanistan would not have been dependent on Pakistan and Iran, and people wouldn’t have been worried that Pakistan had closed its gates on the face of Afghan traders and the price of basic items in the country had risen, because the factories would produce all the basic items and supply them to the Afghan markets according to the demands of the people. Also by constructing these factories, thousands of people would have been hired on jobs and they would have improved the economic condition of their families. However, foreign countries did not do so. They focused most of their attention on the war, and they did nothing to make Afghanistan self-sufficient and raise the economic level of the people. It has still not been too late for foreign countries to have long term cooperation wit

Reply

Very good. The caravan of construction should not stop because of the terrorists' attacks. Continue the work. Allah will shame the terrorists and the terrorists' father (Pakistan). We will pray that the International Community gets angry and puts it from the gray list to the blacklist because they support terrorists.

Reply