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Afghanistan's Sixty Year Old American Project
It could be called the endless American project or the American project interrupted. It all started long before any combat soldier that is fighting there was alive, it was the mid-1940's. That is when America provided the country with funds to create farmland out of deserts from irrigation. That was when President Roosevelt was alive. Then, President Truman took over and gave Afghanistan even more by 1953, a earthen dam. The dam is a 320 ft. in Kajaki, near Kandahar. The water is fresh from the Helmand River and the snow capped mountains of the Hindu Kush. The river combines with the Arghandab River and eventually into Iran. While the dam was being built, American workers and families lived near the construction site. Once completed, there was a pause. It was over a 20 year pause before America continued it, building a power station in 1975 and adding two 16.5 megawatt turbines to provide electricity.
Then, the Soviets invaded in 1979, but left alone a good thing. But everything went into disrepair and the turbines could produce enough power to light the office. When the Soviets left in 1989, the Taliban did not destroy but instead, tried to renovate it using low grade, cheap wires that frequently fizzled. By this time, the turbines could produce half of their normal output. Much of the electricity goes to Helmand and Kandahar provinces, which are oddly partly in control of the Taliban who try their best to deter the Americans. The water canals built back when WW2 was going on help supply water to Helmand's greatest crop-opium poppies! It is here that 50% of the worlds heroin originates from.
In 2001, the Taliban were chased out and the Americans returned. A new generation of Americans who know little of the past. This is when the US decided to finally complete the damn dam despite the dangerous journey getting to it from roadside bombs. But it took time. It was not until 2008, that the third and last turbine and a 18.5 megawatt generator arrived in Kajaki with an escort of 5000 troops and fierce battle.
You would think there is little more to say. Well, the Chinese contractor that was contracted to install it and operate it quit because not all the parts had arrived and he was tired of waiting. Since that time, little more has been done except rust on the newer turbine. It was not until 2011, that the dam area was secured from Taliban fighters. Because America is now on a deadline, the US wants to finally finish the 60 yr. old project at a cost of $266 million to install the last generator and upgrade the station and $205 million to rehab the dam itself and install better power lines.
This hopefully will be done by end of 2014, but, don't hold your breath.