Renovations in progress at key Afghanistan airport

BAMYAN – UNOPS is implementing a major upgrade of the Bamyan city airport in order to improve its connectivity to Kabul and beyond, and to provide increased market access and opportunities to the local population.

Bamyan Province is the heart of Afghanistan’s fledgling tourism industry, home to the Bamyan Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the magnificent Band-e Amir lakes in the Hindu Kush mountains, Afghanistan’s first national park. However, Afghanistan’s mountainous geography and the inadequate facilities at Bamyan Airport have limited commercial access to the region.

Funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), this project will build the capacity of the Bamyan Airport to handle the flow of goods, services and people to and from Bamyan Province. The project is one of the three JICA-funded projects that UNOPS Afghanistan Operations Centre is currently working on under a pioneering partnership.

Under the project agreement, the airport’s runway will be extended to 2,200 metres long and repaved. The renovations will comply with international safety standards to prepare the airport for commercial service. New airport parking ramps will be installed, along with an access road and a car park. Air navigation facilities will further minimize flight risks, and an on-site emergency vehicle will provide aircraft rescue and fire fighting services.

A passenger terminal building will also be erected and fitted with passenger and baggage screening technology. Additionally, new snow removal equipment will make the airport operational during winter seasons. All the improvements will take place in accordance with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The renovations are expected to prepare Bamyan Airport to handle more than 25,000 commercial departures over 20 years.

UNOPS will implement the project in partnership with the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, provincial and local authorities, and the Japanese engineering company, Gyros Corporation. The construction work will take 16 months and is scheduled to be completed in June 2014. UNOPS will also provide procurement services for the airport to purchase the necessary emergency vehicles, ground to air radio communication, airport security and other technical equipment.

In addition to the airport renovations, JICA and UNOPS are also partnering to implement two other infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. Twenty kilometres of road will be paved in and around Kabul, including a major east-west arterial road, and a rural irrigation project will help promote agricultural development in a Kabul suburb. The total work of the three projects exceeds $54 million. In 2011, the Government of Japan was the largest bilateral funder of UNOPS projects.

Bamyan Airport is one of seven airports set to be renovated under the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, which emphasizes the improvement of domestic airports as central to the country’s economic integration and development.