Society and norms – Utilities and Public Services: Transportation

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Transportation is a major obstacle to increased commerce in this landlocked country and is a major element of the reconstruction effort. Transportation is very difficult given the basic absence of road and rail infrastructure. At the beginning of the reconstruction efforts, there were only 15 miles of railroad and less than 2,000 miles of paved roads. Transportation in the rural areas is usually by foot.

The effort to rebuild the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat portion of the national ring road has made substantial progress. On December 16, 2003, the Kabul to Kandahar portion of the road was completed and officially reopened. This 300-mile stretch of road connects the capital Kabul with the main southern city of Kandahar. Meanwhile, other major highway construction is planned throughout the country, including plans for the construction of the northern portion of the ring road (from Herat to Pol-e Khomri), as well as for construction of a road linking Kandahar to the Afghan-Pakistani border. The project to link Kabul and Kanduz, with an extension to the Afghan-Uzbek border, is also underway.

The reopening of the Salang Tunnel in 2002 was a major step forward to open road links with northern Afghanistan and to improve road commerce. The Amu Darya (Oxus) River, which forms part of Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, has barge traffic. The reopening of the Termez-Hazarey Bridge in 2002 opened travel to Uzbekistan.  Emergency repairs to Kabul International Airport have allowed limited commercial flights to begin.

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