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Public Domain Picture: Mayor's office and Corps of Engineers open Kabul's streets to the night

Courtesy: US Agency for International Development
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Mayor's office and Corps of Engineers open Kabul's streets to the night
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Mayor's office and Corps of Engineers open Kabul's streets to the night
KABUL, Afghanistan – Kabul Mayor Muhammad Yunus Nawandish, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry’s wife Ching Eikenberry, U.S. Army Col. Thomas Magness and other Afghan and U.S. officials flipped a switch at sunset to light up solar-powered streetlights on one of Kabul’s most important commercial corridors on Wednesday, Dec. 29. The streetlight project is part of Nawandish’s “Open Kabul’s Streets to the Night” initiative. The goal is to boost economic development in downtown Kabul by creating a safer environment for nighttime commerce. “A solar-light system like this is very important to light the streets,” the mayor said through an interpreter during a press conference under one of the streetlights near Jumhoriat National Specialized Hospital. “It is very important for people’s lives. The lights make security, the economy, everything much better,” he said. Nawandish thanked the United States and the international community for helping to improve the quality of life in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan. The first 28 streetlights illuminate a nearly 1-kilometer stretch of Jumhoriat Road, which the officials noted is just the first phase of a larger project. They announced that they are in the planning stages of expanding the program with streetlights along 4.4 kilometers of roads in two more phases in 2012. The proposed routes, distances, costs and schedule: Phase 1 – Jumhoriat Road, from Jumhoriat National Specialized Hospital to Sherpoor traffic circle, 0.88 kilometers, completed. Phase 2 – Foreign Affairs Road, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, connecting to Wazir Akbar Khan Road, past Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, to Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital, 2.05 kilometers, expected to be complete in 2012. Phase 3 – Wazir Akbar Khan Road, from Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital past Massoud and Shahid Abdul Haq traffic circles, to a point near Kabul Stadium, 2.35 kilometers, expected to be complete in 2012. The first phase proved that solar-powered lights are a viable option for Kabul, a city that has an inadequate electric grid, said Magness, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ district in northern Afghanistan. Much of the capitol city is dark at night following three decades of war that have crippled the city’s electrical grid. Each of the streetlights will generate its own power without drawing from Kabul’s overall power supply. “We’re confident that we’ve identified a way ahead,” Magness said. “When you hear about the mayor’s vision of lighting up the city at night, you realize that renewable energy and this sustainable little effort here could amount to a lot.” Ching Eikenberry, who is a member of a Kabul planning committee headed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, congratulated the mayor and members of his staff for working with the international community to develop the idea. “I am very, very grateful that I have this opportunity to witness the brightening of the city with my Afghan brothers and sisters,” she said. Kevin Brownawell, the deputy mission director for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said the United States is committed to working with Nawandish to improve services for Kabul residents.
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US Agency for International Development

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