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    Guryak truck bridge official opening

    Guryak truck bridge official opening

    Photo By Lt.j.g. James Dietle | More than 200 local Afghan villagers participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony...... read more read more



    Story by Lt.j.g. James Dietle 

    3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — The official opening of the 280 meter Guryak Truck Bridge, connecting the districts of Noor Gul and Khas Kunar, took place, Feb. 17.

    Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Konar province, has been working with the Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team for the past year to complete the truck bridge for Konar province. A local Afghan construction company, Abdul Haq Foundation, completed the project on schedule.

    District governors, village elders, and Governor Wahidi have worked together through a process called the Provisional Development Council to build the $1.7 million bridge, which is a testament to the success of the new Konar government.

    Traditionally, Afghans conduct Shuras, a community meeting, to discuss common interests. In Konar province the PDC is a formalized version of the successful Shura process.

    Over a year ago, the PDC agreed on the need for a truck bridge and asked PRT Konar to help them reach their goal. With the Guryak Truck Bridge officially opened, all their hard work has paid off.

    Governor Wahidi stated during the ceremony, "The reason reconstruction is going so well in Konar is because the PDC gets everyone's input. If everyone is in agreement, there isn't a problem and the construction gets done."

    Bridges have played an important role in rebuilding Konar province. The Konar River provides water for the local people and irrigation for their crops. It also offers potential to generate hydroelectric power. However, it also forms a substantial barrier dividing the Konar River Valley into east and west.

    This division makes many things more difficult for the people of Konar. Trade is negatively impacted because large amounts of goods must either be ferried across the river by homemade rafts or driven extended distances to existing bridges. The formidable river also hampers basic service, such as medical care. Villagers may have a clinic within one mile of their village, but because of the river they have to walk miles to the nearest impromptu crossing, or even farther to find a bridge.

    This distance makes it very difficult for the average Afghan local. It is often too dangerous to attempt to ford the river. Governor Wahidi speaks of several situations where children trying to get to school drown because a raft overturns or is swept away when trying to swim across. The Guryak Truck Bridge is helping increase trade, safety, and transportation for all of Konar's residents.

    The bridge will also allow Afghan national police and Afghan national army personnel to quickly respond to these areas. Many of the same transportation problems that face villagers also face Afghan security forces in the region. With additional bridges that can support their vehicles, they are able to respond rapidly into areas that were previously isolated or difficult to reach.

    "The situation in Konar is unique. The Pakistan and Afghanistan border is very close to the river, which forms a natural division between groups of villages," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremiah Vandermark, PRT Konar engineering staff and a Smethport, Pa., native. "Some would say that the villages on the eastern side of the river have more in common with Pakistan than with their Konar brothers. This bridge eliminates the river boundary and allows the people of Konar to unite together to form a more cohesive government."

    More than 200 villagers from surrounding areas came to see the opening ceremony. Governor Wahidi and other government officials were joined by members from PRT Konar to give speeches and to cut the ribbon officially opening the bridge to traffic. A ceremonial truck displaying the colors of Afghanistan took the government officials of Konar across the bridge to officially open it for public use.



    Date Taken: 02.20.2009
    Date Posted: 02.20.2009 04:32
    Story ID: 30218
    Location: BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF 

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