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Wedge through the wilds

    Wedge through the wilds
     

    Completed in 2012, the USAID-funded highway connecting Keshim and Faizabad has brought new opportunities to Badakhshan Province: Trade has blossomed, health and security have improved and commuting times have been dramatically reduced. But can the road survive the winter?

    A trader in the market in FaizabadNew market forces: Faizabad grocer Sher Mohammed is happy to have a daily supply of fresh produce. (Photos: Usmani)

    Khoda Bakhsh will never forget the day a sick boy died in his car on the way to hospital.  An elderly man had paid the driver to take his ill son from Faizabad to Kabul for urgent treatment. When they got to the Qara Kamar area of Argo District, en route, an overturned Kamaz truck blocked the road. They waited two days for the road to be opened, but before the truck could be moved, the elderly man’s son died in the car.

    The 48-year-old Bakhsh has many similar memories. He has been driving Toyota trucks on the Keshim to Faizabad route for years - but he still can't quite believe his eyes when he drives the road these days.

    The ribbon was cut on the 128-million dollar USAID-funded link between the provincial capital Faizabad with Keshim District in June 2012. Since then, first signs suggest a bizarre mix of instant economic gains and undesirable social repercussions.

    More trade, improved security and an influx of goods have been gladly absorbed by threadbare local markets. But the smooth new camber, built with 260,000 tons of asphalt, encourages speeding and has resulted in a sharp increase in accidents on the road.


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    Wedge through the wilds

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