A new technical plan has been developed for the construction of an ambitious ring road after one of contractors was found lacking the required skills and experience, the acting minister of public works informed lawmakers on Sunday.
Najibullah Ozhan told senators that his ministry did not have enough funds maintenance of the road network. About 90 percent of work on the 3,462-km ring road project, which was initiated in 2002, has been completed so far.
In line with the original timescale, the project was to be completed in 2008. The road links the central capital Kabul with Parwan, Baghlan, Balkh, Jawzjan, Faryab, Badghis, Herat, Kandahar and Ghazni provinces.
A contract for a 233-km portion of the road between Faryab and Badghis provinces had been awarded to an American-Turkish firm -- ECCI-METAG -- in 2012. The company would build one kilometre of the road for $2.4 million -- the highest cost in the world.
“I was not a minister when the contract was signed. The agreement, which is entirely in the interest of the contractor, can’t be terminated under international rules,” the minister said, adding they had developed a technical plan for the project.
Without giving details, Ozhan said the plan would be implemented soon to ensure the early construction of the road, funded by Saudi Arabia and the Asian Development Bank.
Poor-quality roads: Over the past 10 years, the acting minister said, $4 billion had been spent on construction of roads in Afghanistan. But some of the projects have been of poor quality.
Ozhan said the Afghan government collected $2 million annually in toll tax until 2012, but the figure has now ballooned to $40 million. “Last year, we collected $40 million, but the Ministry of Finance has give us only 50 percent of the amount -- not enough for the maintenance of the road network.”
Meshrano Jirga Deputy Chairman Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, who chaired the session, said Afghanistan’s roads were in a state of dilapidation, needing urgent attention from the Ministry of Public Works.