String of projects on cards to boost Faryab security
MAIMANA (Pajhwok): Dozens of development projects worth $100 million would be launched in northern Faryab province next year, officials announced on Saturday.
Acting Governor Mohammadullah Batash said thousands of people would get jobs and infrastructure, economy, agriculture, education, public health, transport, water, power and security sectors would considerably improve.
Some residents, however, expressed concerns over the fate of the projects, alleging funds for previous schemes had been embezzled by the authorities concerned.
Mohammadullah Batash told Pajhwok Afghan News the uplift schemes included the construction of an airport, the Qaisar-Lalman highway, rehabilitation of the Almar dam and power supply from Aqina Port to Andkhoi district.
He said at least $1 million had been set aside for the expansion of Maimana airport, which lacked not have the capacity for big planes.
Mohammad Sadeq Qadiri, the airport chief, hoped the proposed expansion larger cargo aircraft would be able to land and take off. A standard terminal, construction of protective walls, a parking area and lighting facility would be provided in the airport.
One of the vital projects that remain incomplete is the construction of the Almar dam. Work on the project started three years back at a cost of $54 million, provided by the Ministry of Energy. But the scheme is yet to be executed.
A sum of $4.5 million had been allocated for the project, Batash explained. At least 30,000 acres of land would be irrigated after the completion of the project, he said.
The two companies, which were awarded a contract for the Almar dam, halted work last year due to differences on their obligations. Provincial officials expressed their concerns over the stoppage of work on the vital project.
A sum of $65 million has been set aside this fiscal year for the construction of the Qaisar-Laman road -- currently in dilapidated condition. Majority of drivers avoid travelling it due to the presence of rebels in nearby areas.
Four years ago, a Chinese firm constructed a 90 kilometres portion of the road starting from Maimana, the provincial capital, to Ghormach district. But the company later stopped work due to security threats.
The acting governor said $20 million had been allocated for the construction of an electricity sub-station in Andkhoi district. Currently, electricity is supplied to Jawzjan, Sar-i-Pul and Faryab provinces from Turkmenistan.
President Ashraf Ghani, during a recent visit to Turkmenistan, signed a deal with his Turkmen counterpart on the import of 500 kilowatts of electricity to the provinces.
Batash urged the central government to help ensure the execution of the projects in time. He also called for increased cooperation between provincial and central institutions.
The construction of roads in Balcharagh, Garziwan and Kohistanat districts, as well as the provincial capital, and the Almar dam had been delayed for unknown reasons.
Dr. Naqibullah Faiq, who heads the Wolesi Jirga Health and Youth Affairs Commission, said lawmakers from Faryab had requested to the Ministry of Finance to allocate funds for the development projects identified by the provincial government.
He added the development activity that took place in Faryab in the last 13 years had failed to change the lives of people because the projects were not long-term. Cuts in development funds have been the main factor for delays in executing projects.
According to Faiq, the total cost of the ongoing work on Almar dam is $54 million, but the ministry released only $4 million in current the fiscal year.
Provincial Council Chairman Abdul Baqi Hashimi welcomed the approval of mega projects, calling for their execution on a fast-track basis to alleviate poverty and insecurity.
Over 80 percent residents of Faryab depended on agriculture, he said, adding officials should accord preference to the construction of the Almar dam. He remarked the president should implement the promises held out to Faryab residents.
Mohammad Asif Paiman, a lecturer at the Faryab University, linked implementation of the projects to better security, elimination of corruption and international aid.
He believed executing the ambitious plans was impossible unless the security situation was improved and the international community continued to extend aid.
The schemes would not create long-term job opportunities, but the government should be careful in implementing them. Contracts should not be awarded to incompetent and corrupt companies.
Ahmad Shoaib, a resident of Maimana, feared funds allocated for the projects might be embezzled, a common practice over the past 14 years, if corruption continued to plague government offices.
He said construction of the municipality park and sports stadium had begun eight years ago but work on them was yet to be completed. The work quality is poor and most of the money gobbled up by mafia groups, the man alleged.
Another dweller, Mohammad Nasim, claimed that the Aqina-Andkhoi road that was constructed three years ago at a cost of $24 million was in dilapidated condition.
“I have information that the road project’s contract changed hands so frequently that only a fraction of the budget was spent; we want the government to track the issue and recover the money,” he observed.
Batash confirmed the low-quality construction of the Aqina-Andkhoi road, saying the issue had been shared with the Public Works Ministry.
However, he added, some 600 foreign-funded projects worth $9 million would be implemented in Faryab next solar year.
Provincial council members, civil society groups and professional individuals should monitor the projects and report problems during the implementation period to the authorities.
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