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PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A small shop near the road construction in Mata Khan. Mata Khan District is currently experiencing an economic boost due to the construction of a road that will eventually connect it with Zurmat District in Paktya Province. Although the road is not complete, the progress made helps improve the availability of supplies from Sharana, the capital of Paktika. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As progress is made on a critical Paktika road, business continues to improve as well.

The road connecting Sharan and Mata Khan Districts in Paktika Province to Zurmat District in Paktya Province has been under construction since 2008.

However, in the past two weeks, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team engineers observed a distinct improvement in local business.

U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Jason Buswell, Paktika PRT project manager from Groton, Conn., said there is more activity and merchandise present in the Mata Khan District Center because of the new road.

“We had noticed there was one little shop in particular, that a few weeks ago an Afghan National Army soldier had stopped in to get some snacks,” he said. “But we couldn’t even tell it was a shop.”

A few weeks later, when Buswell and other team members visited the road to do a quality assurance mission, he noticed the same building with customers and merchandise outside, distinguishing the structure as a shop.

“This road helps us get our supplies on time,” said Sayed Anwar, a shop owner in Mata Khan. “It’s hard for us. Our economy is very poor in these villages, but it’s getting much better.”

The walls and shelves inside Anwar’s shop are covered with snacks and supplies, while his cousin, Mohammed Anwar, sews scarves for females.

According to Buswell, the road is designed to be 37 kilometers long. Right now, engineers have completed 26 kilometers in rough-grade form and more than 10 kilometers of smooth gravel road. In the spring, the contractor will install asphalt over the prepped gravel road. 

For now, the newly-laid gravel road leads up to the cobblestone street that runs through the Mata Khan District Center, leading to a local bazaar consisting of a clinic, pharmacy and shops.

“If we have the asphalt road, then we can work on the markets and shops,” said Sayed Anwar. “We can supply more things and business can grow.”
The road must go through several stages of construction before the contractor will begin laying two layers of asphalt to complete the Mata Khan portion of the road.

“Before the road, the people were not very happy here,” said Altaf, the project quality control manager from Pakistan. “The people are happy now, and they’re saying the road will help them.”

In addition to completing the road surface, engineers are adding culverts, causeways and retaining walls that are critical to project completion.
“Right now we’re on culvert 25,” Buswell said. “We’ve built other structures such as three causeways or low-water crossings and concrete gutters. We’ve also built three large retaining walls to prepare the road bed for asphalt in the spring.”

He explained these concrete and stone masonry structures will produce a lasting, strong road bed that diverts water which would otherwise cause soil erosion and eventual failure of the road.

Buswell said completion of the road project is determined by several factors, one of which is security.

“Security issues are the biggest concern,” he said. “But now that we have (Afghan National Army) out there, we should see better progress.”
 
The ANA took over security of the road in December after the government began cracking down on private security companies operating in Afghanistan.  Members of Paktika PRT who conversed with villagers in Mata Khan said the consensus is security is going very well in the district.
 
“Here in Sharana, in a short period of time, we’ve seen the bazaar really grow because of the roads and we think this will have the same impact on Mata Khan and into Zurmat,” Buswell said. “This road will also help extend the reach of governance throughout the province and beyond.”

 

PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Sayed Anwar, a local shop owner, discusses the current economic situation in Mata Khan Jan. 10. Due to the construction of a new road, shopkeepers have already seen progress in the availability of supplies from Sharana, the capital of Paktika Province. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)20110110-F-0491A-045 PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan construction worker helps construct a culvert here, Jan. 10. The road, although still in its beginning stages, already helps the local area by making it easy for supplies to arrive from Sharana, the capital of Paktika. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Mohammed Anwar, the cousin of a shop owner in Mata Khan District, sews a scarf here Jan. 10. The road that will eventually link Mata Khan in Paktika with Zurmat District in Paktya Province is currently under construction. The road, in its beginning stages, already helps the local population by making it easy for supplies to arrive from Sharana, the capital of Paktika. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 January 2011 04:57
 

    

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