Data Gathered Date: 

Monday, July 1, 2013 - 13:30

KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): The residents of volatile Kandahar consider growing insecurity, low literacy rate, persistent problem of electricity, and absence of a formal market for their agriculture products as main factors that hampering the progress and development of the area.
In addition to that, lack of health services, violence against women, and inadequate education facilities create mayhem among the residents.
However, residents of Kandahar and the adjacent districts say that security has been improved as compared to the past, adding that much more needs to be done to make lives of the people safe.
Haji Nazar Gul, a resident of Bahram village in Ghorak District said that since the government has taken control of the district, residents continue to suffer from insecurity and threats. It merits mention that one year back, the district was under Taliban’s control but last year the government carried out operation and retook the district.
He said that landmines are planted on the road linking the district to the provincial capital, hampering the people movement and travelling. He said that people have to travel to Sangin District and then to Kandahar, which cost them and waste their time.
Nazar Gul said though the foreign and Afghan forces are stationed in the district headquarters but insurgents are active in rural areas. He said that insurgents plant landmines on the roads near the houses in which residents lose their lives.
He demanded of the government to pave the 100- kilometer road linking the Ghorak District with Kandahar city and maintain its security so that people get rid of the insecurity.
Some residents view the shortage of electricity as one of their major problems, and say that steps to resolve the electricity problem would help settle rest of the problems including the insecurity and creation of more job opportunities.
Haji Faizul Haq Mushkani, Kandahar industries association head said that shortage of electricity prompted many to shut down their factories, adding that investors hesitate to invest due to shortage of the electricity.
Of 127 factories, only 72 are functioning. Most of the factories produce various products including soap, dishes, plastic products, salt, sandals, pipes, non alcoholic beverages, and others with over 30,000 skilled labour working in the industries.
Persistent power problem forces several factories to be closed down back in 2007, he said, adding that the USAID project helped produced ten megawatt electricity for three years to Kandahar industrial zone in 2010.
He said that the contract of ten megawatt electricity would expire by September 2013 and all industrialists are concerned for their future. If the electricity supply improves, many other factories will start operations with more job opportunities will be explored, which will help in development of many sectors including security.
Residents in Kandahar city also complain about the shortage of electricity and consider it as the second big problem after insecurity. They say that that electricity is available for 6 to 8 hours in 24-hours.
Normally, Kandahar city needs 110 megawatt electricity while currently the province gets 40 megawatt from Kajaki Dam.
In addition, residents of Kandahar complain regarding low education quality, lack of professional teachers, and absence of teaching materials. They demanded of the government to take serious measures to improve the education sector.
Niaz Mohammad, a resident of Panjwaee District said that several schools have been closed in the district, adding that those operational schools have lack in quality of education. They went on to demand that many schools need to be renovated or reconstructed. They say that there is dire need to bolster the level of education and hiring of more professional teachers.
They noted that the concerned authorities should come forward and build more and more schools in the district for a better tomorrow of their kids.
Officials of education department in Kandahar city confirms that 70 per cent schools do not have buildings and facing acute shortage of teachers, adding that their department is making all out efforts to resolve the problems at its earliest.
The residents of Shorabak District complain apart from lack of quality education, they confront with lack of healthcare centers.
Mahboob Khan, a member of the district development council said that 110,000 residents live in the district but there are no facilities of education, health, and other sectors.
He said that 200-kilometer road linking the district with provincial capital is in dilapidated condition and most of the patients are taken to Pakistan by animals for treatment.
Abdul Qayum Pukhla, health department director said that there are health problems in the province and the department made all out efforts to improve the health services and increase the number of female doctors.
He said that 12 female doctors discharge their duties in Kandahar in which most are from other provinces.
As many as 38 government and 57 private health centers are active in the province but due to lack of security, nine health centers have been closed in various districts of Kandahar Province.
Violence against women is another big problem in Kandahar city alongwith raging poverty, illiteracy, poor economy, drugs, and other malpractice that cause trouble for women.
Farmers and orchard owners said that they can’t export their products to international markets due to the absence of formal market, cold storage, air and road transportation.
The products can only be exported to Pakistan with very low price and then Pakistan exports the same Afghan products abroad with higher prices.
Fruit traders in Kandahar said that Afghan dried and fresh fruits are famous in Europe and America but there are problems of transportation to export the products.
Haji Muhammad Gul, a resident of Minar village in Arghandab District said that he owns a pomegranate orchard, adding that if the government helps him in exploring the market for the products then this will help in eradication of poppy and improve the economy of the residents.
 Haji Abdul Qayum, resident of Pashmol area of Zhiri District who owns a grape garden said that he gets good harvest of grapes each year but he has to export only to Pakistan.
He said that grapes can be rotten too fast and there are no cold storage facilities or better transportation services either to keep them fresh or to export them abroad.
 He requested the government to provide assistance in development of agriculture products export with exploring suitable market for the products.
Eng. Abdul Baqi, deputy head of Chamber of Commerce said that the biggest problems in the export sector is shortage of air transport and many efforts have been made by the Chamber but yielded no tangible results. “There is one way to export our products with special reference we can’t export our fresh fruits and grapes abroad because we don’t have cold storages and cold trucks to keep the fruits fresh for exportation,” he added.  
Officials of chamber of commerce demanded that air routes should be explored for the exports of the products in order to improve the overall economy of the country.