What used to be the largest NATO base in southern Helmand province - Shorab airfield, or “Camp Bastion” –will now become a center for economic development.
Recently, the Governor of Helmand met with other officials, airport authorities, and a new economic commission to discuss transitioning the base over the next 18 months.
Nasrullah Sahibzada, the head of the new economic commission, said this commission formed because of the President’s decree to make eight large economic zones in Afghanistan, and Bastion will be the first one created.
Sahibzada said building this new economic zone is an important step in creating opportunities for exporting agricultural products, natural resources, and other products to countries around the world. This boost in exports will create 250,000 new jobs to help Afghans support their families, according to Sahibzada.
Hayatullah Hayat, the Helmand provincial governor, thanked President Ghani for his decision to create these economic zones to increase employments rates in Helmand and other parts of the country. He said the Bastion airport plays a vital role in boosting the economy, and paving the way for community development, tourism, and travel opportunities for locals.
“This is good news for the honorable people of Helmand,” Governor Hayat said. “The Bastion airport will connect Helmand to the rest of the world and will also provide the chance for tourists to visit this beautiful place.”
Mohammad Khan Nasrat, the head of Helmand economy department, shared the value he saw Camp Bastion bringing to the local economy:
“We know that Helmand is a very good place for producing vegetables, nuts, dairy, fruits and other things. Particularly the watermelon, melon, and pomegranates, which are the best in the world,’ he said. He noted that once the new Camp Bastion is built, merchants around the world will be able to have Helmand produce shipped to them.