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Bridging gaps for a better Afghanistan

Release No: UNRELEASED Jan. 1, 2009 PRINT | E-MAIL

PRESS RELEASE

U.S. Forces Afghanistan

December 31, 2008                                                                      

Release Number 20083112-02

Bridging gaps for a better Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating completion of the largest construction project of the year, took place Dec. 30 in Deh Rawood district, Uruzgon Province.

Over 250 people attended the opening of the Chutu Bridge, including local leaders, village elders and members of the coalition. The opening ceremony, officiated by the Deh Rawood district leader, began with a local Imam giving the invocation and concluded after a series of speeches by both Afghan and Coalition forces dignitaries. 

Costing just over $2 million and utilizing a crew of over two-dozen Afghan construction workers and ten coalition members the bridge was completed in less than six months.  The bridge is expected to have a major impact on the economies of the local communities. 

“The people of the area are very pleased that the coalition helped us build this bridge.”  said Sayed Usman, the Deh Rawood district chief.

“I thank you for making [this] bridge happen,” said Surabi Ali Safari, Afghanistan Minister of Public Works while speaking to the elders of the area. “This [bridge] is what can come out of when we support the government [GIRoA] and the coalition.”

Over the past three years, there were numerous attempts to create other river crossings near the current bridge. Each eroded away during the seasonal spring floods.  The new Chutu bridge site was chosen after a detailed study of the flood plain.   With over 240-tons of reinforced galvanized steel, the Chutu Bridge can handle a weight capacity of over 70 tons and will require minimal maintenance for years to come.

Over 900 bags of cement were use to help construct the columns and abutments that make up and support 150 meters span.

“This is your house this is our home, this bridge is for everybody in the [Uruzgon] area,” said district police chief Omar Khan, provincial representative.

Prior to the construction of this bridge the local population had to use a ferry to cross the Helmand River at this location. The ferry ride would cost the equivalent of two U.S. Dollars. The other available option is to travel approximately seven miles to the north, closer to Tarin Kowt, where a low water crossing is located. The problem with the low-water crossing is that when the water level rises too high, crossing the river at that point is not possible.

Now that the Chutu Bridge is open, the people have a toll-free, all weather, all season crossing point.

“It’s not my bridge it is not the government’s bridge, it’s your bridge,” said Gen. David McKiernan, Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan. “Special Forces don’t always just fight, they help build bridges too.”

The rigid design of the Mabey-Johnson style bridge will facilitate an increase in commerce for thousands of Afghans in the Deh Rawood area and throughout the Uruzgon region by serving as a more convenient place for them to cross the Helmand river.  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.  Additional security measures such as gates and guard stations will be added to help prevent accidents and overloading.

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