Reconstruction of the Salang Pass has started, said Yama Yari, the Minister of Public Works (MoPW), adding that before the onset of winter they are hoping to have completed work on at least 30km of the road.
According to Yari, work on the first 10km has already started and the next phase involving 20km will start soon.
“The ministry is committed to reconstructing 30km of road from Khenjan to the Salang tunnel and 10km from Olang (Olang area on the southern side and Malkhan in the northern part of the pass) to Salang tunnel this year,” said Yari.
Motorists and truck drivers who use the Salang road have called on government to ensure the road is resurfaced properly and that all work meets the necessary standards. They complained that the current condition of the road causes endless problems for them.
“They (ministry) do not construct the road properly, after one or two months the road will once again be destroyed,” said Zamari, a truck driver.
A number of Baghlan and Parwan provincial council members have called for the same thing – insisting on the road being resurfaced properly. They also questioned the quality of asphalt being used.
“Very soon the road will be damaged again. Certainly; the asphalt that they use and call standard, and quality, go and have a look at the Doshi area - the road is destroyed,” said Mohammad Safdar Muhssini head of Baghlan provincial council.
“We want good roads and then the people’s problems will be solved,” said Abdul Hai Nemati, Baghlan governor.
The reconstruction cost of the 30km-stretch of the Salang highway will total an estimated 250 million Afghanis.
Issues around Salang Pass have been a focal point over the past few months and in June MoPW said that technical and geological surveys and the design of a new Salang Tunnel will be finalized towards the end of next year.
According to the MoPH, an Australian company – Smeck Consultants - is conducting technical assessments relating to the tunnel which will most likely be built alongside the existing tunnel.
The existing Salang Tunnel is a 2.67km long tunnel located on the Salang Pass in the Hindu Kush mountains, between Parwan and Baghlan provinces.
It was completed by the Soviet Union in 1964 and has been used to connect northern Afghan cities with Kabul for decades.