Afghanistan is deeply in need to develop a strong connectivity system allowing free and easy movements of people and goods within the country and linking with neighboring countries. After years of violence and neglect, the road system was left as almost unusable and still now is limited to about 13,000 km of paved roads over an area of 652,000 Km2 with very complex orography, such as the Hindu Kush, deserts, and rivers prone to floods. To give a comparison, Italy has a 500,000 Km long network of paved roads over an area less than half than Afghanistan. Railroads are almost inexistent, limited to few km. from borders with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Iran.
Therefore, Afghanistan is trying to implement an ambitious program for developing transport infrastructures both internally, thus giving access to isolated areas, and externally for promoting commerce and trade with the neighboring countries. The geographic location, in between China and the Indian sub-continent and the Arabic sea, would be strategic for allowing the passage of goods from east Asia to the ports of Iran and Pakistan and thus to the world.
Italy supports Afghan efforts to build up their own transport network in roads, railway and civil aviation sectors, and it is now one of the main actors in this area with approximately 320 million Euros funded since the beginning of Italian Cooperation in the Country (2002).
The geographical focus the Italian Cooperation projects has always been and the Province of Herat to the west and the Province of Bamiyan to the east.
The first major project – now completed – is the construction of the Maidan Shar to Bamiyan road, a grant to the Afghan Government worth € 100M for a 136 km long connection through mountains up to 4,000 meters over the see level (Hajigak pass) and cutting the connecting time from Bamiyan to Kabul from 10 to 3 hours.
On the western side, the construction of the €24M Herat bypass, a 45 km highway now open to traffic with only the bridge over the Harirud still to be completed, is an infrastructural project of strategic importance for the Western region and the country, improving and facilitating the traffic flow between the Islam-Qala border with Iran and the Turghundi border with Turkmenistan, and the main ring road (HW1) and thence to the rest of the Country.
Italy has also agreed a €92M soft loan for the construction of the Herat to Chishti-e Sharif highway, a 155 km long road along the Harirud valley, first part of the east-west central corridor that would cut the distance from Herat to Kabul to about 750 km. On the eastern side, the Maidan Shar to Bamiyan road is also part of this infrastructure.
Italian funds were also beneficial for the construction of the roads connecting Shindand city – located south of Herat – to the ring road, already completed.
Other strategic projects in the western region include the upgrading of the Herat International Airport to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards, and the construction of the fourth segment of the railway connecting Khaf (Iran) to Herat, as part of a much wider plan including connections to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan and a railroad along the Amu Daria. Both projects are financed through Italian soft loans for a total amount of over € 100M.
Below the ongoing projects:
|10523||Contribution to UNOPS for the Support of the “National Rural Access Program - NRAP” year 2015|
|10482||Contribution to UNOPS for the Support of the “National Rural Access Program - NRAP” year 2014|
|10285||Support to the implementation of Herat Provincial Development Plan - PDP|
|10214||Rehabilitation of the East-West Corridor from Herat to Chishti-e Sharif -REWCOR|
|10074||Urgent Measures to upgrade the Herat Airport to ICAO Standards - UMUSHAP|
|9808||Supporting the Afghanistan National Development Strategy in the Infrastructur Sector - SANDSIS|
|9635||National Rural Access Program in the West Region of Afghanistan - Herat By-Pass - HERAT BY-PASS|
|8914||Rehabilitation of the Maidan Shar - Bamyan Road -REMABAR|
Focus: Herat Infrastructures and Connectivity
The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation is supporting the peace and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan through a well-articulated infrastructure program that interrelates with other sector such as agriculture production or the mining sector.
Italian funded activities are concentrated in Western Afghanistan, notably in the Province of Herat, the second largest city in Afghanistan and an urban hub of great potential. Selected infrastructures have a great relevance to foster trade and commerce and to improve socio-economic standards of life such as creating job opportunities and facilitating access to health and education services.
The Herat to Chishti-e Sharif road – whose construction is now starting – is going to provide access to the large plains along the Harirud which will benefit from the presence of the Salma Dam and the related future irrigation projects, also giving access to the marble quarries located close to Chesht town.