DEHDADI DISTRICT, Balkh Province – The bus stops at the station allowing passengers to get off and on. The main road through the village is wide and smooth, and vehicles of all sizes drive by. Shops along the road display colorful wares and the whiff of fresh kebabs being barbecued in the roadside restaurants entices passers-by. The scene is buzzing with activity even though it is peak winter with heavy snowfalls dominating life in nearby villages.
Ghulam Rokay, a shopkeeper in Pul-e-Babo village in Dehdadi district in Balkh Province, recalls a time when road conditions were poor. “We used to have many challenges when the Pul-e-Babo road was not paved, especially in winter,” he says. “During winter, the waterlogging and lack of drainage led to water freezing on the road, the thick ice sheets made it difficult for cars to pass. We had to break the ice with axes and picks to be able to make our way through. Every week we had at least one car accident.”
But the situation has improved recently when a project to upgrade infrastructure in villages paved Pul-e-Babo road with asphalt, fitted a standardized drainage system, and reconstructed the Qol Urdo Bridge located along the road. Says Ghulam Rokay, “Now I think all the problems are solved. There is no standing water or mud anymore, and everyone can commute easily.”
Linking Mazar-e-Sharif–Sholgarah to Nasaji roads, both considered to be arterial roads in Balkh Province, the recently paved Pul-e-Babo road passes through seven villages. With the upgrading of the road, more than 17,000 people are connected to each other and markets in all seasons. Daily commuter pressure on existing roadways also has reduced significantly in Dehdadi district, for example, students in three schools along the way now use the new road to get to school.