Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Afghan dam workers unable to gain security clearance

With repairs still needed at Kajaki Dam in southern Afghanistan, some 2 million people still have no electricity, RFE/RL reported today. As instability lingers, U.S.-led forces have not been able to secure the area to a level suitable for repair operations. In addition to continued fighting, a recent U.S. aid package limits the distribution of money to only those who show no empathy towards the Taliban.

The Sangin district of Helmand province has been designated to receive a large aid package, however, elders have recently been made aware that the workers will not be allowed to build hospitals and roads, or repair the dam, until locals condemn the objectives of the Taliban.

“In light of the military activities there, we have adjusted our schedules and we have moved forward with the project,” said Abdou Rahmaan, USAID mission director in Afghanistan. “We have identified those aspects of the project where we could begin and continue work, and we are moving forward with them. The schedule that we are working with now does not impact negatively on the overall schedule because we will be moving forward with putting in place routine capabilities to deliver materials and supplies to the campsite. We will be moving forward with the road construction. And the plan is to move forward with the transmission line.”

The goal was to have the dam repaired and producing electricity by early 2008, but with persistent fighting and conditional U.S. aid, such a timeline is not likely. To meet the projected deadline, the workers would have to start in the next two months. The dam is crucial, not only for electricity in Helmand, but also for irrigation and job creation.

For the full article, click here.

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