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Building Bridges in Afghanistan
By Navy Lt. Neil Myers
Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - The Konar River runs for 150
kilometers and serves as a natural border between eastern
Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. Although the villages
along the eastern and western banks of the river are part of
Konar, the river reinforces cultural and political alliances
between Afghans on the eastern shore and tribesmen across the
border in Pakistan. The people on the east have had very
little connection to the provincial government.
To resolve this problem, the Konar Provincial Reconstruction
Team has embarked on a bridge-building strategy to connect the
Afghan government to the five provincial districts on the east
of the Konar River. Until recently Afghans in Khas Konar,
Sarkani, Naray, Marawara and Dangam Districts looked to
Pakistan for cultural affiliation, services and trade.
Currently the two bridges connecting the eastern side of the
river with the west are in Nawabad and Asmar. These bridges
are the only means of vehicle access to the provincial center.
The five new bridges under construction by the PRT are the
Guryak, Khas Konar, Marawara, Bar Sholtan and Saw Bridge. The
new bridges will accommodate two-way commercial truck traffic
and will connect residents from the isolated areas along
Pakistan's border with the rest of Konar.
Navy Lt. Matthew Myers, Konar PRT engineer, said that all
construction work is being performed by local Afghan
"These projects demonstrate that Afghan engineers are capable
of building large scale and technically challenging projects,"
Myers also reported that residents on both sides of the river
enthusiastically support the bridges.
"Due to the popularity of the bridges, there have been no
attacks on the projects," Myers said. "Each bridge has an
estimated lifetime of 60 years; so, the benefits will last for
generations of Afghans."
"The bridges will further legitimize the Afghan government to
the people in these areas, showing that the Afghan government
is capable of bringing large-scale infrastructure projects to
an area neglected by 30 years of war," said Navy Cmdr. Daniel
Dwyer, Konar PRT commander.
Construction is on time and on budget. The five bridges will
be completed between October 2008 and March 2009.
Sayeed Wahidi, Konar's provincial governor, sees the five
bridges as transformational, he said.
"These bridges will give [the Afghan national security forces]
access to the most problematic areas of Konar," Sayeed said.
"They will disrupt the insurgency along the border districts
and will connect the Afghan citizens to markets, health care
and the provincial government."
(Source: US Department of Defense - Released)
Bar Sholtan Truck Bridge is under construction in the Shigal
District and, once completed, will provide Afghan national
security forces and coalition forces access to the most
problematic areas of the Konar province, Afghanistan.
Saw Truck Bridge is one of five bridges currently under
construction in Konar province, Afghanistan. This bridge is
being built in the Gaziabad District and has an estimated
lifetime of 60 years; it will benefit generations of Afghan
Guryak Truck Bridge is under construction in the Chapadara
District, Konar province, Afghanistan. In all, five bridges
are being built in the province and, because of the popularity
of the projects, no bridges have suffered attacks from
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