Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Attention to Central Region: From Slogan to Action

Undoubtedly, it is the responsibility of governments to provide equal services and implement balanced development projects throughout the country, but due to long conflict and mountainous nature of some parts of the country, especially Hazarajat / Central regions have been deprived from equal attention of central governments.  In the new era, despite flow of hundreds of billions of international dollars as aid to Afghanistan, and despite its relative security and effective people cooperation with the government such as in disarmament process or DDR, these people have not benefited from international assistance. The main problem of central regions is being fenced by natural barrier and people still suffer from lack of transit and communication infrastructures.
Therefore, during the 2014 presidential election campaign, the transformation and continuity team led by Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani put forward the slogan of breaking the natural fence or natural prison of the central regions. Now, after five years of that slogan that we are on the eve of the next presidential election, the fundamental question is how many of those slogans have actually come true?  Can the team of Dr. Ashraf Ghani tell to the people how many of the slogans have been met? How much will he focus on fulfilling his past and present promises and commitments if he wins the upcoming election?
In order to reach a clear response to the above questions, this article will briefly compare the past 13 years of previous government services to the current services in terms of building communications and other necessary infrastructure. For example, during the 13 years of Mr. Karzai’s and his partners, while in terms of flow of foreign aid and facilities could be called the golden age of Afghanistan, the share of Hazara region from national projects was as follows: (1) Construction of Kabul-Bamyan road via Ghorband, Kotel Shibar towards Bamyan  2) Construction of Kabul-Bamyan route via Maidan Shahr, Sia-Khak and Kotel Hajigig  (though not fully completed), 3) Bamyan – Yakaw-lang Road; And 4) the construction of a small Bamyan airfield named Air-port  of National Unity Martyred during the period of national unity government.
During the national unity government, the Central region, like other parts of Afghanistan, received enough attention and many projects are being implemented. As aforementioned, the biggest challenge in the central region, along with many other challenges, is lack of appropriate and standardized transition routes; so far Daikundi and Ghor provinces and parts of Ghazni provinces such as Jaghouri, Malistan and Nahour districts suffer from a lack of asphalted roads. However, the government has paid special attention to country’s infrastructure. The development projects that launched during the period of national unity government in the central region as following:
Darrah-e Sof and Yakawlang Road: This road is considered as second phase of the north-south highway. According to technical studies, it is 178 kilometers long, 7m wide, 3m asphalt shoulder on both sides of the road, 2m earthly shoulder, 6 large bridge, 390 small bridges and 70,482 meters of wall. Actually, this road is a major transit route from north to south and to Pakistani ports, including the Gwadar port in Balochistan. If this road complete, it will play an important role in the economic growth of the country, facilitating transportation for crops and livestock reducing traffic accidents in the country.The project has been contracted with CRBC, a Chinese Construction Company, in more than $ 205 million and will be monitored by  Shiladia Company which is funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The second phase of Gardan Dewal Road: This road, which is part of the East-West Road, is about 60 kilometers long, starting from the Afghan Bridge and continued to the Bandeshoy Bridge in the Punjab District of Bamyan province. The project was contracted in 2016 and its asphalt process started nearly two weeks ago. The first phase of Gardan Dewal Road, which connect west to east, was contracted in 2011 supposed to be completed by 2014 but failed due to some reasons; after several extensions, the company again failed to complete the work, and so it was canceled by the economic high Council in 2016. At present, 35% work of this phase is under process and going to be contracted with another company.
West to East Road: This road starts from Herat and continued to Chasht Sharif district. Now, 60 kilometers of this road has been designed while 35 kilometers of which contracted and its practical project also started few weeks ago.  The other 25 kilometers of this road is under process in the National Procurement Office.
The Nilli Shahristan Road up to Qouragh: Daikundi Province had not even one meter asphalted road in past 13 years of previous governments.  Only a non-asphalted road was to connect the province to Bamyan via Nilli, Sharistan and Mera-more but it has not been completed yet.  During the National Unity Government, the Nilli-Waras road as planned 155 km will be constructed in the near future; the technical and economical studies of its first phase completed but the second phase is under process. In addition, the internal road of Nilli city will be constructed in length of 8 kilometer. Last year, it was inaugurated but due to length of way and mountainous route its material could not reach on time but it will be completed within the specified time.
Moreover, there are several other projects either under technical studies or under implementation process such as Jaghori – Qara-Bagh road, 220 KV  Dushai-Bamyan power line, water dam in Daikundi, second grade road in Yakawlang, Espilan-Waras asphalt road and north-south road (Yakawlang - Qandahar). The last but not the least, it is up to the Afghan people to judge whether the slogan of “rescueing the Central Region from Natural prison” has been realized or not. Undoubtedly, if these projects are completed, the central region will not only be released from natural prison but also change to a crossroad between East to West and North to South.