A new road between Sar-i-Pul and Sosma Qala
KABUL - For decades, the only link between Sar-i-Pul and Sosma Qala, where more than 300 returnees from Iran are about to recover their homelands, has been a dusty bumpy road.
Since the Government of Afghanistan, supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) started to relocate these returnees in their villages, the need for a new road became obvious.
In order to complete this project, the Swedish Embassy has chosen the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as its implementing partner, as a part of a global project called the Rural Access Improvement Project (RAIP) that started in December 2007 and will end by 31 December 2009
This week the new road was inaugurated.
“The benefits of this new road are countless,” said Karma Jimba, the head of UNOPS in the northern region.
“This new road will be used to provide the people of Sosma Qala with medical assistance and all the different kind of supplies they need,” he added.
The total cost of the 34 km road is about US$ 2,000,000 with the initial 20 km constructed with a bituminous seal coat surface, the first of its kind ever built in Afghanistan.
The inhabitants of the returnees’ camp of Sosma Qala also welcome this initiative. “We are now linked to the city,” said a community leader. “This road will help us to find jobs and become active in the society.”
Out of seven districts in Sar-i-Pul province, the road provides a key link to six districts: Sar-i-Pul, Sosma Quala, Sangcharak, Gospnadi, Balkhab and Kohistanat.
The total population of these districts is estimated at 569,600.
Despite the arriving snow UNOPS is due to complete the project by the end of December and to start new projects next year such as the rehabilitation of over 30 km of roads across the northern region.
By Alexandre Brecher-Dolivet, UNAMA