Afghan, Coalition Leaders Unveil Bridge With Hopes of Prosperity
American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 2, 2009 Afghan leaders and coalition members celebrated the opening of a bridge in Uruzgon province that promises residents a vibrant new connection to surrounding communities.
Afghan villagers walk across the Chutu Bridge to mark its opening in Deh Rawood district, Uruzgon province, Dec. 30, 2008. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. John Gay
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
More than 250 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Chutu Brige in the Deh Rawood district for what officials say was the largest construction project in the area for 2008.
Afghan construction workers and coalition members completed the more than $2 million bridge project in less than six months.
The bridge is expected to have a major impact on the economy of the local communities, officials said, by facilitating an increase in commerce for thousands of Afghans in the Deh Rawood area and throughout the province.
“The people of the area are very pleased that the coalition helped us build this bridge,” Sayed Usman, chief of Deh Rawood district, said.
Prior to the new bridge, residents had to pay to take a ferry across the Helmand River or travel about 7 miles to the north to a low-water crossing, and hope that water levels were low. The Chutu Bridge now offers a free, all-weather, all-season crossing point.
With more than 240 tons of reinforced galvanized steel, the bridge can handle a weight capacity of more than 70 tons and requires minimal maintenance.
“It’s not my bridge, it is not the government’s bridge, it’s your bridge,” Army Gen. David McKeirnan, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said. “Special forces don’t always just fight, they help build bridges too.”
The lure of potential benefits to local communities has prompted a pledge by villagers to defend the bridge themselves, if necessary, rather than see it fall victim to militants, officials said. Additional security measures such as gates and guard stations are planned to help prevent accidents and overloading.
“I thank you for making [this] bridge happen,” Surabi Ali Safari, Afghanistan public works minister, said while speaking to the elders of the area. “This [bridge] is what can come out when we support the [Afghan] government and the coalition.”
(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)