30 Nov. 2008
PR# 2008-666

Bala Murghab bridge unites city, Afghan countryside and international efforts

BALA MURGHAB, Afghanistan--An Italian Army soldier performs security during the inauguration of the new bridge over the Murghab river, Nov. 30. (ISAF Photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan - Tribal elders from Bala Murghab, officers from the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, and International Security Assistance Force representatives – including Commander, International Security Assistance Force, General David McKiernan and Italian Army Brigadier General Paolo Serra – recognized the completion of a key bridge in the local area during a shura near Forward Operating Base Columbus, in Bala Murghab, West Afghanistan, Nov. 30.

Prior to its construction, the only bridge across the river Murghab was unstable, with visible cracks in it. The duration of its use was unpredictable. It was only a matter of time before it became unusable.

Without a sturdy and reliable bridge, schools and hospitals on one side of the river could not serve the Afghan people on the other side. Loss of a bridge would also inhibit the freedom of movement along the main road in west Afghanistan.

In early November, a convoy of 13 trucks from Alpha Logistics, an Afghan-owned company, drove more than 800 kilometers from Kabul to deliver the 75-tons of material needed to build the bridge.  More than 20 other companies had turned the contract.

“The work at the Bala Murghab bridge site has been very hard,” said the bridge’s field engineer, Italian Air Force Warrant Officer 1st Class Mario Giordano. “At the beginning, it was an especially dangerous place to work. We had to build trust with the local population and assure them we were there to help.”

The new bridge was built by the Afghan National Security forces with guidance from the engineering cells in ISAF’s west and central regional commands. Funds for the bridge came from ISAF.

“This bridge that we have just opened up is just one example of the positive things that can happen literally in hundreds of places across Afghanistan,” said General McKiernan.  “This is about improving the lives and the security, the government and the economic programs in this particular district,” he added. 

At the conclusion of the shura, a convoy departed FOB Columbus for the new Bala Murghab bridge site. Afghan Security Forces and tribal elders inaugurated the bridge with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This operation has created an even stronger bond among the many international forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan Security Forces,” said Giordano. “I am very pleased to have been able to contribute with my experience to this great project. I know that my efforts, as well as those of all ISAF soldiers, have left something good for the people of Afghanistan.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/