Khostis demand special attention to airport project
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Residents and the provincial council have demanded the government pay exclusive attention to the construction of the civil airport in southeastern Khost province.
Construction work on the airport next to Khost City, the provincial capital, was launched about two and a half years ago by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, but the $14 million project was brought to a halt one and a half years ago due to corruption.
Khost provincial council member Shukrullah Babkarkhel told Pajhwok Afghan News President Ashraf Ghani during his visit to Khost province had promised serious attention to the airport’s construction.
But nothing happened, he said, adding that the airport should have been operational now. “The president during his visit to Khost directed the governor to investigate the airport contract and present the findings to him for resuming work on the project, but unfortunately the project is yet to be resumed.”
His colleague Qadim Afghan told Pajhwok Afghan News if the situation remained the same, he did not believe the desire of Khost people to have an airport would be fulfilled.
The public representative urged government officials concerned, especially the president, to accelerate efforts for resumption of the airport project and its completion.
“Tens of thousands of people from Khost work abroad and their travelling problem can be solved with the completion of this airport which will be another big source of income for the government.”
Besides other countries, more than 100,000 residents of Khost are working in the United Arab Emirates alone and the expatriates hope they would directly land in their home province from the UAE if the airport is built.
A resident, Spin Rawan Noorzai, said the civil airport had a great importance for Khost people and the government should give special attention to the project so that the dream of expatriates could come true.
“On a daily basis, hundreds of expats from Khost land in Kabul and reach here tired in cars. If the airport is built, it will not only resolve the problem of expats but will assist trade development. “
Khost deputy governor Abdul Wahid Patan said a delegation from Kabul had investigated the airport project and reported back to the Transport and Aviation Ministry.
“The matter lies with the ministry to resolve the contract issue and resume work on the airport,” he said.
In Kabul, Transport and Aviation Ministry spokesman Qasim Rahimi told Pajhwok Afghan News the airport project had been investigated by a delegation sent by the former government.
After the new government was formed, the aviation minister and the aviation authority chief again visited Khost province and presented their report to the Presidential Palace, he said.
Rahimi said three plans were considered for the airport, the first presented by the Aviation Authority was opened to bidding in which the old contractor was the winner.
The second plan was the airport security which belonged to the provincial government and the third was funding, he explained.
Former Khost governor Abdul Jabbar Naeemi had told Pajhwok Afghan News that the airport project had fallen into the hands of some mafia groups who committed corruption in the contract.
At that time, Naeemi had said: “The airport project has become a football. First deals were cut in Kabul over the contract and now if someone talks about the quality he is threatened with death.”
But the contractor, Faiz Construction Company, had rejected corruption in the contract, saying the project was brought to a halt due to financial problems.
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