Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Services Program(IRP) written in English, Dari and Pashto
Keshim-Faizabad Road, looking upstream on Kotcha River Schoolgirls at well pumping clean water Afghan workers building part of a bridge Asphalt being laid on an Afghan road A section of North West Kabul Power Plant Aerial view of the Kajakai Dam

Afghan Capacity to Operate and Maintain National Highway System Gains Momentum
Staff of the Roads Operations and Maintenance planning program conduct forensics testing to forecast maintenance and periodic repair for the road management programs.
Staff of the Roads Operations and Maintenance planning program conduct forensics testing to forecast maintenance and periodic repair for the road management programs.
There is a big difference between fixing potholes and maintaining a national highway system. The Roads Operation and Maintenance and Capacity Building Program (O&M), a part of USAID’s Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Program, is partnering with the Afghan Ministry of Public Works to build a strong and technically capable road maintenance organization and a skilled Afghan workforce capable of building and sustaining Afghanistan’s expanding road network with efficiency and vision.

Since its inception in 2008, O&M has fostered effective and sustainable practices through training and capacity building at the national and local level. Under its performance-based contracting program, operations and maintenance activities are carried out using private sector construction companies that are paid in direct relationship to the quality of work they provide. The three Afghan contractors selected to do the work attend ongoing O&M workshops where they learn best practices in road repair and safety. Today these contractors maintain the conditions of 1500 kilometers of paved road in the country.

Concurrent with repair, O&M conducts complex forensic tests to measure the structural quality of the highways. The purpose is to teach new methods to Afghan engineers to advance the intelligent design of highways and increase the life of the pavement. Afghan O&M staff is now skilled in quality assessment techniques that include aerial photography and GPS mapping, techniques that are as sophisticated as those used anywhere in the world. The Evaluation Unit schedules and manages regular maintenance reviews by sending out teams to inspect repairs and identify damage every week.

In addition to quality assurance and skill, a sustainable road maintenance operation requires administration and foresight. In 2008, O&M established the Road Management Unit (RMU) in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works to provide Afghan leadership with the knowledge and practices required to oversee a national highway network. In the newly renovated RMU building in Kabul, O&M holds meetings, seminars, and training sessions. In addition, it is engaged in a process to develop and translate policies, procedures and operating manuals for road management.

After just two years of implementation, the benefits of the Roads Operations & Maintenance and Capacity Building Program include the extensive employment and training of Afghans in road maintenance activities, the elevation of Afghan engineers and contractors to positions of responsibility and skill, and the mutual investment of donor and government expertise in creating sustainable ways to improve, expand and maintain Afghanistan’s roads.

Improved roads and a sustainable system for maintaining them will increase trade opportunities, provide farming communities with better access to markets, facilitate the response time of military agencies to security concerns, and increase the local population’s access to social and government services.

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