By Air Force Capt. Dustin Hart
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 20, 2009 - Joined by government and local leaders, the provincial reconstruction team here celebrated the completion of the Grand Canal repair project during an April 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony in Jalalabad. The repairs took about nine months to complete and cost $2.8 million, covering nearly 40 miles of canal spanning four districts. The contractor repaired 850 gates and installed five new siphons to help to control water flow and double the irrigation capability.
Nangarhar Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai and PRT commander Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Cabosky, along with other government and tribal officials, spoke to the crowd about the benefits the repaired canal will provide to the province's agriculture economy.
"This project represents hope for the people of Afghanistan," Cabosky said. "It was identified by the government as one of the most important needs of the province, and was a coordinated effort between the government and PRT. Afghans will enjoy the fruits of this project for years to come.
"The canal repairs provide better irrigation, more crops, more jobs and a better economy for the Nangarhar people," Cabosky continued. "While the enemies of Afghanistan offer only destruction and death, this project demonstrates the government's commitment to building a better future for the children of Afghanistan."
The project will directly benefit more than 60,000 families, Sherzai said at the ceremony.
"Reconstruction in Nangarhar is successful because we have the support of the people," the governor said. "The Grand Canal was one of our biggest projects, and it was repaired through the help of our friends. It's a very important project, and today is a great day for all Nangarhar people."
(Air Force Capt. Dustin Hart of the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team serves in the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)