Citizens of Hawr Rajab and Busayefi gather May 13 on the bridge linking their communities. The bridge, constructed by an Iraqi company and funded by the government of Iraq, spans the Mercedes Canal. (Courtesy photo)
FOB KALSU, Iraq (May 16, 2008) – Brightly painted flowers, hearts and polka-dots color the new bridge with cheery symbols. Most importantly, the bridge’s construction between the communities of Busayefi and Hawr Rajab paints a symbol of unity.
Once under the control of insurgents, the communities became isolated; they were also separated from each other by the Mercedes Canal.
Thanks to the efforts of coalition forces, Iraqi army and citizens tired of violence, the insurgents were driven away. However, the canal still isolated them from one another.
Their desire to establish a relationship materialized May 13, when the bridge linking the communities officially opened.
The event was coordinated by Wasmey Yas Khudhayer, owner of the Adwa al-Ashar Construction Company and supervisor of the project. Besides having an Iraqi company perform the construction, the project was funded by the government of Iraq.
In the past, most projects were funded using money available to coalition commanders via the Commander’s Emergency Relief Program. Now, with security being established, the GoI is taking an active role in its country’s reconstruction.
“It’s an important sign that the GoI is footing the bill to reunite their communities,” said Maj. John Brock, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Sheiks from multiple areas attended the event, including Sheik Salah, who cut the ribbon over the bridge and Jalil from Busayefi. Sheiks Ahmed and Salah from Khamasiyah, Sheiks Yassin and Hamid from Adwaniyah and Adel from Hawr Rajab were also present.
Brock, a native of New Orleans, La., said the bridge will help re-establish community relations between two cities once fragmented by criminal activity.
Once the event was over, the crowd moved to the Busayefi Sons of Iraq headquarters for lunch, where they discussed the importance of working together to prevent the criminal activity that once caused division in the area.
“The key thing is we are linking communities together,” said Maj. Dan Canales, 2nd BCT civil affairs officer and native of Point Pleasant, N.J., who said that before the bridge was constructed, citizens had to take more difficult, longer roads to travel between the cities.