KANDAHAR -- A new bridge in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is now making it easier for thousands to travel.
The bridge, which is 21 metres long and 5 metres wide, is built on the Arghandab river near the Dahla dam.
It opened for commuters on March 17 after four months of construction.
The Danish Refugee Council built the bridge at a cost of $52,000 (4.5 million AFN) funded by the UNDP.
The Dahla bridge now connects six areas of Shah Wali Kot district and Dahla dam with Kandahar city, said Abdul Salam Baryalai, the director of the Kandahar Department of Economy.
"People were facing difficulties travelling to the Dahla dam and its recreational areas, but with the construction of the bridge, [residents] of Kandahar city and some districts can easily travel to the Dahla dam," Baryalai said.
Construction of the dam employed almost 50 young men from Shah Wali Kot district for four months, he added.
"The bridge ... will facilitate travel for decades," he said.
If water levels were too high to ford the river, locals were forced to take long routes to reach Kandahar city, according to Payenda Mohammad, 63, a resident of Shah Wali Kot district.
"There was a smaller bridge in the past, but it was destroyed in the conflict by mine explosions," he said.
"After the bridge was destroyed, we could not get patients to hospitals on time. Commuting was very difficult, and we wouldn't go to the city unless we really had to," Mohammad said.
"With the construction of this bridge, we can commute very comfortably to Kandahar city in a short period," he added. "The distance is much shorter now, and we no longer have to take the longer routes to reach Kandahar city."
The construction of the new bridge has made his life easier, he said.
The river's rising levels in summer and winter would make commuting very difficult, Abdul Baqi, 64, another resident of Shah Wali Kot district, said.
"We had to travel to Kandahar city via mountainous routes when the river was high. The road is very bad, making the commute to the city very difficult," he said.
"I am very happy that our travel issues are addressed. In the past, travelling to Kandahar city during the night was impossible, but now we can go there anytime we want," Baqi said.
Development projects by international agencies have created jobs and spread hope, Baqi added.
The bridge is also beneficial for those travelling from Kandahar.
Taj Mohammad Seerat, 32, a resident of Kandahar city, previously had to take an hours-long mountainous route to reach the Dahla dam.
"Thousands of Kandahar residents go to Dahla dam every day for sightseeing and picnics. Before the construction of the bridge, travelling there was very difficult," he said.
"Residents of Shah Wali Kot district had to travel for several hours from the city to their district, but now they can reach their homes in an hour. This is a great facility for the public," he added.
With the construction of the bridge, more locals are going to Dahla dam for picnics and sightseeing, Seerat said.
Improving the lives of Afghans
The UN's assistance has led to positive change, say residents.
Khairullah, 42, a resident of Shah Wali Kot district, worked on the construction of the Dahla bridge project for four months.
Khairullah said he received 12,500 AFN ($140) each month working on the project, which helped save him from unemployment and his family from poverty.
"Unemployment was bothering me greatly as economic problems were at their peak," he said. "I was able to earn a salary by working in the construction of Dahla bridge."
"I am the breadwinner of a family of five. The salary I got from the bridge construction project for four months will be enough to cover my family's expenses for a few more months," Khairullah said.
Without assistance from aid agencies, more Afghans will be forced by poverty and hunger to migrate, he said.
Sangin Noorzai, 54, a resident of Shah Wali Kot district, said that he has been receiving food from the World Food Programme for a year.
"My two sons were killed in the war, leaving me the guardian of a 13-member family. I am old and cannot work and have been suffering from economic problems. Assistance by aid agencies has saved my family from hunger," he said.
"We would have starved to death if it were not for the assistance of aid agencies," he added.
"There is no other way that we could cover our family's expenses. My sons used to serve in the National Army and had monthly salaries, but three years ago both of them were killed within a month of each other."
Assistance by aid agencies has saved millions of impoverished Afghans from hunger and gradual death, Noorzai said.
If there is security in a country and there is no war, that country will be built sooner. You see that, the United Nations' organization implements its development projects across the provinces of Afghanistan. In several years when there was war in Afghanistan, even the government itself could not implement the development projects in most provinces of Afghanistan. In the current government, there is security all over Afghanistan. Both domestic and foreign institutions can carry out their humanitarian aid and development projects anywhere in Afghanistan without any fear. Lately, in many provinces of Afghanistan, internal and external organizations have carried out the works, where there was no government in the past several years. If there is the same kind of security in Afghanistan, if domestic and foreign organizations do their work freely, Afghanistan will be built sooner. See how many development projects have been carried out by the United Nations and other external and internal charities in the provinces where there was no government in one and a half years, and all these projects are for the benefit of the poor people of Afghanistan. Let us Afghans join hands with each other and stop fighting and prosper our homeland. The war ruined us Afghans. Enough is enough. We Afghans must build our homeland. I am very happy every time I read the news of Salaam Times and learn about the prosperity of this country. Goodness of Afghans is not in the war, but goodness of Afghans is inReply
One thing that I would comment on is the amount of money that the organizations mentioned, which shows more in every small and big project; however, this amount of work may be done for lesser money, but we have nothing to do with it, because if we insist and ask for an account, they may say we will not do this work, and they will go their way. For four months, 50 people were working, now if a little hard work is done, some people may be able to find work. The Dehla Band is a place of entertainment and festival for people, as hundreds of people visit every day and thousands of people go there every week; therefore, it is inevitable that they will eat and drink something during their picnic. So, if shops, hotels, cottages, and swings are built in this area, the owners can also benefit, they can also employ two or three other people, and that area will be transformed from a desert to a stable place... UNDP did all this. Thanks for their work. Now it's our turn to do more for ourselves there...Reply
There are two words: - I pay my respects to the staff of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Danish Refugee Council for completing this important and necessary project. On one side, they provided short-term work opportunities for the people, and on the other side, they built the way to the picnics place; however, the amount of money is too much for such a small bridge. If it had been done correctly, this bridge could have been built for $20,000. - I want to tell the people that the NGOs built this bridge for you. Now you should do something to make shops near the Delha dam area and earn income from them for your families. Everywhere people celebrate, there is a need to buy basic goods, and there are shops for selling goods. Try not to live all your life on the organization's money; the work of the institutions is like someone who has fallen into a pit, and the organization reaches out and pulls him up. Otherwise, you have to provide for your own family. With regards, MohammadReply