Posted by: Editor | June 5, 2009

Hazarajat Highway–Bamyan Series 1

Hazarajat Highway will the hub of infrastructure in the country, if Govt. and international donors take interest in its construction.

Hazarajat Highway will be the hub of infrastructure in the country, if Govt. and international donors take interest in its construction.

Bamyan is situated 240 kilometer to the Southeast of capital Kabul. There are two ways from Kabul. The one from Maidan Province that takes 6 hours is less used by people due to risky security in Taliban strongholds of Wardak. Travelers mostly prefer the long but relatively peaceful way from Shiber Pass through Parwan Province.

In 2005, Italy announced $40million (USD) for the road construction from Kabul to Bamyan. The project was planned to be completed by 2008. But yet the construction has not gone ahead of some kilometers in the center of Maidan Province. The construction work was stopped for several times due to “Taliban insurgency”. The sluggish work that could be completed in a year is pending despite the Government of Italy has announced funding twice since the project was launched. Some Hazara MPs say the Central Government is intentionally delaying the construction work due to continued discrimination and prejudices against Hazaras. They question, how could thousand kilometers of roads be completed in the worst insurgency-hit provinces of South and Southeast, but a 50kilometer road towards Hazarajat is being sluggish. They question why the Government limits the construction work only from Maidan, while it could be started from Bamyan side and completed by now. How the National Army and international forces can not provide security to construction of a small project?

The project has been inaugurated three times by Karzai and other officials, but each time it has been postponed due to “insurgency.” Currently the construction work is completed till Jalrez, the area where Pushtoon population of Maidan ends and Hazara population of Bamyan starts.

People of the central provinces including Bamyan, Daikundi, Ghor and Herat have been demanding of the Government to plan construction of a highway from Kabul to Herat through Hazarajat. According to strategic experts, if the Highway is constructed, it will not only bring revolutionary economic prosperity, but also reduces 400kilometer distance of Kabul-Herat through Kandahar. Karzai in 2006 had ordered the Planning and Economy Ministries to conduct a survey about the highway. But the reluctant Administration in Kabul has taken no interest to even conduct a feasibility report. It was therefore, Mr. Muhaqiq, a Hazara politician, included construction of Hazarajat Highway on the top list of his demands in current negotiation deal with Karzai for supporting him in the Presidential elections 2009.

Hazarajat Highway is not only the key to prosperity of Hazarajat, but the entire country and its kick start economy. The Highway, given its peaceful geographical location, can promote trade with Central Asian states and Iran. It can play as alternative to the only Highway towards South of the country. It reduces the long distance of Kabul to Herat through Kandahar. The Hazarajat Highway will serve as the hub of infrastructure connecting the entire country. It will revolutionize the economy of the country promoting markets for agriculture sector.

Due to the mountainous geography of Bamyan and Daikundi, the cost of the Highway will be high. None of the foreign donor agencies such as USAID, CIDA or DFID have taken interest in the construction of Highway, nor has the Government in Kabul been seriously interested. In a protest demonstration in April, the people of Bamyan put clay on the two-kilometer paved road in the entire Bamyan. The people said international donors fund on political basis because USAID, CIDA and DFID works in areas where their respective countries, United States, Canada and Britain—the largest donor countries in Afghanistan—have military presence. The Highway can bring hundreds of million dollars revenue to the Government annually but the Administration in Kabul has never taken serious interest in the project.

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