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‘Gardez-Patan road work stopped for non-payment’


‘Gardez-Patan road work stopped for non-payment’

Feb 26, 2017 - 15:54

GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Local residents say construction work could not be initiated on a 73-kilometre portion of the Gardez-Dand Patan highway in southeastern Paktia province, two years after the projected was launched.

The Ministry of Public Works had allocated 199 million afghanis for the road’s construction between Gardez, the provincial capital, and Dand Patan district near the Pakistani border.

Some members of the provincial council (PC) say the contractor had been made 60 percent of the total payment, but it was yet to launch work on the road despite the passage of two years.

Then deputy public works minister and former Paktia governor Juma Khan Hamdard and other officials had participated in the project’s launch.

At that time, Hamdard had said: “Inshah Allah, this road will be constructed at a cost of 199 afs million in two years. The road should have been constructed earlier, but a lack of budget delayed it.”

But it did not happen and the road, which should have been completed by now, remains in a rundown condition.

Paktia PC head Dr. Allah Mir Behramzai on Saturday told Pajhwok Afghan News that they had many times complained to the provincial public works department about the protracted delay in launching work on the road. He said the reason behind the delay remained unknown.

The public representative said nine districts were situated along the highway and residents of these districts were in great trouble due to the road’s dilapidated condition.

He claimed the contractor had received 60 percent of the payment and had just constructed a 300-metre sidewall so far.

A member of the provincial council, Ayub Gharwal, held similar views and said the road’s condition had further worsened.

Local residents and drivers said they were fed up with the road’s shabby condition and complained about negligence of the department and the contractor concerned.

Abdullah, a resident of Ahmadabad district, said commuters faced many problems due to the road’s bad condition. He said such contracts changed many hands and finally went up in smoke. “The contractor should be asked the question of no work.”

Jandad, a cargo vehicle driver on the road, said the road’s rundown condition had prolonged the time of their journey. He said the highway’s condition had extremely deteriorated and drivers faced many hardships as a result.

But Paktia Public Works director Abullah Durrani rejected the claim that the contractor had been made 60 percent of the payment. “The reason behind the delay has been non-payment to the contractor for the work it has done.” Durrani said construction work on the road would be launched after winter.

Niaz Mohammad Sherzad, an official of the contracted construction firm, told Pajhwok Afghan News that they had constructed and repaired besides the hundreds of metres long retaining wall a large number of bridges and culverts.

He said some members of the National Assembly were interfering in their affairs, delaying the project.

Sherzad said they would not resume work on the road until they were paid for the work done. He said they had stopped work on the project in protest against the delay in payment.

President Ashraf Ghani has also promised reconstruction of the Gardez-Dand Patan highway --- a key and shortest transit trade route to central capital Kabul.