Sun 26 May 2019

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Road Rehabilitation in Afrin: Steps Towards Economic Development

Paving of roads linking the villages and towns of the northern Aleppo countryside - 10 April 2019 (Enab Baladi)

Paving of roads linking the villages and towns of the northern Aleppo countryside - 10 April 2019 (Enab Baladi)

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The city of Afrin is witnessing efforts to improve its service conditions, as well as the living standards of its population, after its control by Turkey-backed opposition forces in early 2018.

Following its formation, the Local Council of the city of Afrin took upon itself the rehabilitation and restoration of vital infrastructure, despite inadequate resources and means. These efforts have begun to be noticed day after day.

Road Rehabilitation Project

Like many cities previously marginalized by the regime, the city of Afrin has received little to no attention in terms of infrastructure development. This was especially the case of transportation, as the majority of its main roads are old and worn out, and their conditions have been worsened by years of war.

After the control of the city of Afrin, and the relative stability that ensued, the issue of roads has been placed at the top of the agendas of Local Councils. This is due the role of transportation in reviving the economic conditions of the city, which has become an important industrial and commercial center in the Syrian north.

“After several meetings with the Turkish side, proposals have been submitted for projects to improve the situation in the Afrin area. This is necessitated by the new reality of Afrin, and the important economic transformation taking place here,” said Mohammad al-Hassan, a member of the city’s Local Council.

He added that the most significant of these projects was “the inauguration of Al Hammam border crossing with Turkey, and its preparation for commercial transit. As a first step, a private company has been contracted to repair existing roads, and then the total resurfacing of (asphalt) roads for some important motorways.”

Al-Hassan noted the efforts by municipalities to rehabilitate the roads serving the main commercial centers. The most significant of these is the Jindires road, whose condition has been improved in preparation for the inauguration of the border crossing.

“The main road, Rajo Street, which is the economic nerve of the city, is now being paved after being in dire straits. It is necessary to conclude work on it as soon as possible,” al-Hassan said.

The cost of paving every ten square meters, along with cleaning and processing costs, stands at USD 800. This exceeds the capacity of the Local Council, but an agreement was made with the Turkish side to assist in the completion of this project.

A Municipality Without Machinery or Funds

Despite the importance of the institution, the municipality of Afrin operates within very limited means, as the Local Council suffers from weak financial resources –  which are nearly nonexistent.

“As with other facilities, the municipality suffers from financial inadequacy and the lack of heavy machinery used for drilling, transporting waste, as well as road repair,” said Mohammad Al-Hassan.

“The lack of machinery is a result of theft and vandalism that the city has been subjected to. The greatest damage was the deliberate fire by militias that used to control the city, which affected the municipal garage. We have lost dozens of vehicles and equipment to operate the city’s facilities, leaving it paralyzed during the first months of its liberation.”

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