Project promises economic boost for Afghans

4 Jan 2008 | Capt. Heather Kekic

A recently-approved $300,000 construction contract promises economic growth for Afghans here, according to the Airman leading engineering efforts for the Mehtar Lam Provincial Reconstruction Team. 

The contract for the construction of four new agricultural buildings in the Mehtar Lam agricultural compound was signed Dec. 30, according to PRT engineer, Capt. Peter Joo. 

One of the agricultural buildings will be for farm equipment storage and maintenance, the second building will be for general purpose storage (to include feed and fertilizer) and the third and fourth, smaller buildings will be used for cool storage. 

"The cool storage facilities are a first for Laghman Province," said Captain Joo. "We are building these facilities as a test so we can see how well they do. If they work well we are going to build more cool-storage facilities in surrounding villages." 

The cool-storage facilities will be powered by micro-hydro plants which require very little energy. Additionally, because the buildings are largely underground they also incorporate the Earth's temperature to maintain coolness, said Captain Joo. 

The Laghman Provincial Government recommended this project to the PRT as a necessity to encourage growth in the province's agricultural sector. The new buildings will aid in the speedy distribution of seeds and fertilizer, allow greater control and increased lifespan of agricultural equipment and provide increased shelf life for fresh goods. 

A team of engineers from both the provincial council's government technical unit and the PRT met to review proposals for the buildings, voted on them and eventually selected the Ahmad Mukhtar Construction Unit for the contract. 

In addition to the long-term economic growth promised by enhancement to the area's agricultural capability, the contract also provides an immediate boost to the local economy by mandating that no less than 80 percent of the work force will be day laborers and that at least half of the workers should be Afghans residing within a five-kilometer radius of the worksite. 

The project is slated to start on Jan. 6 and is estimated to take about 240 days to complete. 

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