The Importance of Rebuilding the Kabul-Kandahar Highway

By Amanullah Hanifi

A resilient economy hinges not only on various sectors but also on the efficiency of trade and transit systems. For the trade and transit sector to flourish, a nation must invest in developing comprehensive transport networks, encompassing sea, air, land, and railways, and adopt modern transportation systems. Afghanistan is among the countries that lack direct access to the outside world and predominantly rely on air, land, and railway networks for transportation.

Regrettably, Afghanistan's transport infrastructure, which forms the backbone of trade and transit, has not been adequately developed. The country's reliance on road networks outweighs its utilization of air and rail transport. While road construction plays a vital role in the growth and development of Afghanistan's trade and transit, it has not received the necessary attention it warrants. International reports indicate that neglect has led to the destruction of 54 percent of Afghanistan's highways, necessitating urgent reconstruction efforts. Should substantial attention and reconstruction not be undertaken, the remaining sections of the highways are also at risk of crumbling.

Multiple factors have contributed to the degradation of highways, including natural disasters, overloading of vehicles, speeding of trucks, overcrowding, and the use of substandard materials in road construction.

Afghanistan's geopolitical and geographical location grants it the pivotal role of a connecting bridge between regional countries. By strategically investing in a well-organized land transport sector, primarily focused on road infrastructure, the nation can swiftly achieve comprehensive regional connectivity, thus playing a crucial role in fostering economic growth. The extensive network of regional, provincial, and local roads in Afghanistan offers the potential to interlink diverse regions within the country.

The benefits of establishing road connections between all regions of Afghanistan are undeniable. Timely and high-quality delivery of essential services to remote areas will become feasible, significantly improving the quality of life for the inhabitants. Moreover, enhanced accessibility will spur substantial business growth, particularly in mechanized farming practices in remote regions. Farmers will gain access to improved seeds and efficiently transport their agricultural products to the market, reducing spoilage. This, in turn, will boost both domestic and international trade, leading to a remarkable increase in Afghanistan's exports. A country's economic and political independence strengthens when productivity outweighs consumption, fostering overall national economic growth and providing its people with increased autonomy.

Given that road transportation constitutes the primary means of movement in Afghanistan, the construction and reconstruction of roads carry immense potential for the country's economic and political development. These endeavors facilitate the seamless transportation of commercial and agricultural goods between regions, further fueling economic progress.

Afghanistan's strategic geographical location as a connecting bridge in the region, particularly with neighboring countries, offers immense potential for economic development through efficient transit practices. Recently, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, assured Central and South Asian countries during the Second National and International Exhibition of Imam Abu Hanifah that Afghanistan serves as the safest transit route. The Islamic Emirate has recognized the significance of economic self-sufficiency and the importance of establishing a robust and modern land transportation system, especially by focusing on developing standardized roads. Consequently, practical efforts have been initiated to achieve these objectives, exemplified by the reconstruction of the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

Deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund inaugurated the asphalt project for the reconstruction of the Kabul-Kandahar highway, specifically from Arghandi intersection to Maidan Wardag, Durani Bazaar. Emphasizing the highway's pivotal role in Afghanistan's trade and transit, His Excellency reaffirmed the commitment to enhancing infrastructure and facilities in this regard.

The Kabul-Kandahar highway is currently undergoing reconstruction in five segments, namely: Arghandi Chowk to Durani Bazaar, Ghazni Center to Pash Kanda, Pash Kanda to Qalat, Qalat to Shahr Safa, and Shahr Safa to Manjah. This ambitious reconstruction project is being undertaken by the private sector, with financial support from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

During the inauguration of the asphalt project, which encompasses the sections from Arghandi intersection to Maidan Wardag, Durani Bazaar, Mullah Mohammad Essa Thani, the Acting Minister of Public Works, confirmed that the private sector has already commenced work on five segments of the crucial Kabul-Kandahar highway. The private sector is committed to completing the project within the stipulated timeframe, ensuring its timely utilization.

The Kabul-Kandahar highway holds immense significance as a vital commercial and transit route, linking central Kabul and northern provinces with numerous southern and southwestern provinces. Beyond its domestic connections, it plays a pivotal role in facilitating the transfer of commercial goods to neighboring countries, thereby contributing to regional trade and economic dynamics. The restoration of this important thoroughfare is set to boost trade between the north, center, and south of Afghanistan, enabling commercial goods to reach the market punctually while minimizing transportation costs. This, in turn, will have a profound and direct impact on the national economy.

The reconstruction of the Kabul-Kandahar highway is expected to yield a substantial increase in transit volumes passing through Afghanistan. With the establishment of a standardized road, foreign traders will find Afghanistan an attractive transit route for delivering goods to other countries, generating significant revenue for the Afghan government. As Afghanistan's revenue expands, so will its national economy. Furthermore, the development of political, commercial, and transit relations between Afghanistan and neighboring countries will be fostered, especially through the Kabul-Kandahar highway. Stronger commercial and transit ties with neighboring and regional nations will fuel the growth of Afghanistan's national economy.

The Kabul-Kandahar highway spans an impressive 480 kilometers, with a width of 7 meters, featuring 46 large and small bridges, as well as 1716 culverts. This extensive road infrastructure accommodates the daily movement of thousands of passenger and cargo vehicles.