By Senior Airman Dilia DeGrego, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
Nov. 16, 2007 - Members of the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team visited Salang district Nov. 12 to assess construction of the area's latest district center. Bagram PRT engineers visited the site of the district center and new Afghan National Police headquarters, located near Salang high school, to determine the current dimensions of the cleared site.
Upon completion of their assessment, PRT engineers discovered some adjustments were needed to ensure there was enough room for all three buildings, as well as a new volleyball court for the school. Adjustments were discussed with the construction-site contractors and the district director of education. Based on their findings, the district center contractor was given approval to start building.
"(The visit) was a partial success in that we finalized the location of the new district center and the contractor was released to build the facility," said Air Force Capt. Harry Jackson, Bagram PRT engineer. "The district education director would not accept the fact that we have a limited space to build in, and every meter counts. The compromise we struck with him could jeopardize the construction of the (Afghan National Police) headquarters."
Once complete, the district center will serve as a town office and will house the district leadership. It will be used to hold town meetings where local elders can present the needs of their people to their government.
"The current facility rented for the district center is a small five-room building with a leaky roof," Jackson said. "It definitely does not project an image of a government that can meet the needs of the people. I do not know where the district court is, but most of the time it is collocated in or next to the district center. The new district center can provide a place for the court to meet, as well."
The groundbreaking of the new Afghan National Police headquarters is dependent on the building of the district center and may have to be postponed due to lack of space, officials said. If construction goes as planned, the new headquarters will provide a more modern and secure working area for police officers.
"The current ANP headquarters is also in rented facilities, which are in equal disrepair," Jackson said. "The new ANP headquarters will include all of the required facilities for an efficient and professional police force."
"We are very excited to get the new headquarters," said Afghan Col. Mohamad Naim, Salang police chief. "Right now our officers don't have a good place to work. Once it is built, there will be a more secure place for them to work from. It will also provide a place where the people will know where to come to if they need our help."
The two projects have been on the books for at least two years, Jackson said. In fiscal 2007, Combined Joint Task Force 82 made it a priority to complete all the required district centers for each province.
"The requirements were generated by the Parwan government based on a standard for the district center functions required by the Ministry of Interior," he added. "The standard facility design that is used in each site was provided by the Afghanistan Stabilization Program, a division of the Ministry of Interior."
In addition, during their visit, Bagram PRT members also distributed more than 500 school kits and more than 50 teacher kits to Salang high school students and teachers. "We appreciate the student and teacher supplies very much," the Salang high school headmaster said. "They are very happy."
(Air Force Senior Airman Dilia DeGrego is assigned to Combined Joint Task Force 82 Public Affairs.)