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$11m being spent on Salang tunnel renovation

$11m being spent on Salang tunnel renovation

Mar 02, 2013 - 16:48

CHARIKAR (PAN): Damaged by years of war and neglect, the Salang tunnel that represents the major north-south connection is being renovated with financial assistance from ISAF, an official said on Saturday.

Heralded as a marvel of engineering when completed in 1964, the Soviet-built tunnel would be completely repaved, from sealing leaks to repairing the lights, over the  next one year at a cost of $11 million, said Deputy Public Works Minister Ahmad Shah Wahid.

He told Pajhwok Afghan News preliminary repairs of the 11,000 feet high facility in the Hindu Kush mountains started last week. Construction work would be performed at night time and traffic allowed to use the tunnel in daytime until the repairs had finished, he said.

Vehicles would be allowed to travel through the tunnel at night only in an emergency situation, the official explained, saying the people going to Mazar-i-Sharif for new year celebrations on March 21 would also be allowed to use the tunnel.

The highway maintenance chief, Gen. Abdul Rajab, said his department was ready to face the situation arising from the closure of the tunnel at night. He added passenger vehicles would be allowed to travel in daytime and heavy vehicles on alternate days -- one day from the northern side and one day from the south.

Hafizullah, who runs a passenger car on the highway, said that driving through the tunnel was a pretty harrowing experience

The 35-year-old said water poured through holes in the wall and the road had deteriorated into a rough, bumpy and dirty track. He added the tunnel was barely wide enough for two-way traffic, and the uneven road surface meant trucks often flipped over.