Roads to ease gridlock in Kabul city now open

KABUL – Two key roads were inaugurated at a ceremony today to combat increasing traffic congestion in Afghanistan’s capital city, which serves 200 times the number of vehicles it was designed for.

​The 15-kilometre airport road and 750-metre community road were officially opened by Kabul Mayor, Yunus Nawandish; ministers Najibullah Aoudjan and Wais Ahmad Barmak; Technical Deputy Mayor, Abdul Ahad Wahid; Japanese Ambassador, Hiroshi Takahashi; Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Senior Deputy Resident Representative, Masaya Fujimoto; and UNOPS Afghanistan Country Director, Mikko Lainejoki.

The road leading from Kabul International Airport will help alleviate congestion, facilitate trade, reduce road damage caused by heavy trucks driving through the city centre, and improve access to markets and basic social services. It has four underpasses to ensure the safety of pedestrians crossing the major thoroughfare.

“This road is one of the most important and high profile roads of Kabul. Most of the vehicles that come from the eastern border, especially from Pakistan, and want to go to the north or even to the west of Afghanistan, can use this road to avoid coming to the city centre,” said Kabul Mayor, Yunus Nawandish.

In support of a larger programme to redevelop Kabul, the Government of Japan provided more than $31 million in funding to build the airport and community roads, in partnership with Kabul Municipality and the implementing partner, UNOPS.

“This road that we call Mirza Abdul Qader Baidel was funded by our Japanese friends. As the representative of the people of Kabul, I would like to take this opportunity to thank, from my heart, the Government and the people of Japan and JICA for their aid and assistance. The Government of Japan has been developing the capacity of the Kabul Municipality and we are very grateful for it,” said Mayor Nawandish.

During the ceremony, the Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan, Hiroshi Takahashi expressed his appreciation to the district communities for their patience throughout the construction of the road, pointing out its positive effects on floodwater drainage.

“Now, we hope that this important road will bring new life to the community and help smooth traffic flows in Kabul city,” said Ambassador Takahashi.

An estimated five million people live in Kabul – a city designed to accommodate only one-fifth of its current population. Traffic congestion is becoming progressively worse as migrants, returnees and job seekers flock to the capital.

“According to the Kabul City Master Plan in 1978, the road system was planned for 3,000 vehicles. Right now, we have 700,000 vehicles in the city and every day we are adding 200 new ones,” said Mayor Nawandish. He added that many of the roads had also been blocked due to security reasons, which contributed to the traffic jams.

The airport road is part of the Kabul Metropolitan Development Plan, developed by JICA to address growing challenges in infrastructure, congestion, urban sprawl, transport, water and sanitation and population growth.

Since 2001, Japan has provided an estimated $5.4 billion in support of Afghanistan’s nation-building efforts across various sectors, including security, health, culture, humanitarian assistance, agriculture and infrastructure.