Jalalabad-Torkham work stopped for a year
JALALABAD (PAN): Work on a new road connecting Jalalabad city with the border town of Torkham has been suspended for the past year, causing commuters and traders serious delays and holdups.
Work on the road, which is to be 75 kilometres long and 13 metres wide, was inaugurated by Pakistan’s then-prime minister, Shawkat Aziz, and President Hamid Karzai in 2007.
A Pakistani company, Frontier Works Organization, finished half the work in the first two years, but for the past year, nothing has been done.
Saeed Ahmad, Pakistan’s consul general in Jalalabad, said there had been a dispute between the company and the Pakistan National Highway Agency (NHA) over the money.
He said the problem would be resolved soon and work would begin.
Nangarhar governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, said he spoke with Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who assured him the work would resume soon.
Sherzai said elders from Nangarhar province had also travelled to Kabul to meet with Karzai to press the issue.
Drivers say the current Torkham-Jalalabad road is overcrowded and too narrow, and causes many delays.
Naeem Khan, a driver, said a suicide attack on the road a few days ago had caused a traffic jam for hours.
If there had been an alternative road, commuters and drivers would have been able to get through, he said.
Jawed Shinwari, a truck driver, said the road is very narrow from Momandara district to Hesar Shahi desert and that rush hour traffic, or a broken down car, can cause an hours-long blockade.
“If the Afghan government wants to resolve the problems of the people and see the country and the economy develop, then they must force the force Pakistani government to resume work on the road.”
Zar Muhammad, a businessman, said that due to the crowds on the road, they could not transport their goods on time to Jalalabad and Kabul.
A driver of public van, Najibullah, on his way to Kabul from Torkham said accidents happened because the road was too narrow. "Yesterday, a car crashed into my car, which caused a lot of damage. If the road was wider, the accident would not have happened."
Ahmad Shah Wahid, the deputy minister of public works, said there were some problems which had caused the work to be suspended, although he would not say what the problems were. "I have contacted the Pakistani government and the embassy of Pakistan in Kabul. They are making promises that the work will begin soon, but they have not yet fulfilled those promises."
According to the public works department in Nangarhar, every day, 20,000 small and large vehicles travel on the Torkham-Jalalabad road which has a capacity for 5,000 vehicles.
If the new road is not built soon, then the current highway will be destroyed. The first lane of the Torkham-Jalalabad road was also constructed by a Pakistani company with financial help from Pakistan.
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