News: Panjshir PRT talks power with Shast villagers
Story by 2nd Lt. Ashleigh Peck
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan- Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team members met with Gul Haidar, the Shast village elder and a former Mujahedeen commander, as well as Shast villagers and numerous former Mujahedeen members in Rokha District here Dec 27.
The PRT commander, sergeant major, civil affairs and engineering teams visited the Shast village to discuss the main concerns in the village.
“Commander Haidar is working to improve relationships between Rokha and the PRT and Rokha and the government,” said Panjshir PRT Sgt. Maj. Mark Byrd from El Paso, Texas.
Approximately 25 former Mujahedeen members and three former commanders attended the meeting.
“People found out this morning and drove from Kabul to be here,” said Haidar, through an interpreter.
While village issues were discussed, the Mujahedeen members could not let the meeting conclude without telling a few war stories.
“It was almost eerie to be around that many Mujahedeen commanders who ran through these hills and fought with everything they had,” said Byrd. “With 30 years of fighting the Soviets and the Taliban, the Mujahedeen have endless stories.”
In between the war stories, three main concerns were addressed: power distribution from the micro-hydro dam system, healthy drinking water and roads.
“We want the power addressed before anything else,” said Haidar.
The micro-hydro system was built by the ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development more than two years ago, but a distribution plan was never put in place, said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, a Panjshir PRT engineer and Doty, Wash., native.
“Village elders agree that the best use for the micro-hydro system is to distribute the power to approximately ten mosques in the Rokha area,” Haidar said during the meeting.
After the meeting, the PRT engineers surveyed the canal leading to the micro-hydro dam and the circuit breaker to evaluate how much power can be produced.
Daniel Fredrickson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers member with Panjshir PRT and Battleground, Wash., native, estimates the micro-hydro system can provide between 45 and 60 kilowatts of power.
“Panjshir PRT engineers conducted a site survey Dec. 29 to map out the potential distribution system for the mosques. The next day, the team verified the actual capacity of the micro-hydro system during the winter months,” said Compton.
“The site survey confirmed the system is fully operational,” said Compton. “The difficult part will be distributing the power between the mosques, as some of the mosques are up to two to three miles away from each other over rough terrain.”
Over the next couple months, the villagers will work with the PRT to acquire materials and execute a plan to provide power from the micro-hydro system, said Compton.