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Afghanistan’s Road Network

December 26, 2011


The Ministry of Transport is accountable for the strategy and the planning of air, road and railway transport. Responsibilities for road transport are divided between the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Interior. The functions performed by MoTCA in the field of road transport currently comprise:

  • Transport services, including road haulage and bus operations;
  • Transport regulation, which is performed by the Private Sector Department of MoTCA.

For more information on railroad transport, please refer to our Private Sector Department or see the webpage of the Ministry of Mines, the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Interior

Transport Sector

Afghanistan’s Road Network comprises about 3,300 km of Regional Highways, about 4,800km of National Highways, 9,600 km of Provincial Roads and 17,000km of rural roads. Regional Highways foster regional trade and economic linkages between Afghanistan and neighboring countries – Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Ministry of Public Works (MPW) is responsible for development, management and maintenance of 17,700 km of roads-

  • National Highways – 3,363 km.
  • Regional Highways- 4,884 km.
  • Provincial Roads – 9,656 km.
  • Rural Roads – 17,000 km.

As a result of decades of conflict, the road network was largely destroyed. Since 2002, Afghanistan has launched a major programme for improving its road network. As per the Road Master Plan, Afghanistan has the following four kinds of roads:

With the help of Afghan’s development partners (USAID, World Bank, ADB, European Commission, Japan, Iran, India, Pakistan and others) the Government of Afghanistan has rehabilitated and/or constructed the following roads:

1. Challenges and Constraints

  • The deteriorating security situation in several parts of the country, mainly in the southern provinces as well as in the southeast is a major challenge for transport sector. This has implications for the physical improvements to the transport sector, donor agency activities, and governance. Implementing partners have revised their strategies and organizational structures to reduce risks to their personnel in less secure areas. The security constraints seriously affect the pace, cost and quality of development activities, including those in the transport sector. Work stoppages, additional security requirements in volatile areas, and the ability to provide technical oversight and guidance to contractors all have an impact on the delivery capacity and cost of development programmes. To improve the transport sector, closer collaboration between all actors in the sector is required because of this situation.
  • Transport sector ministries and institutions lack the human capacity and organization to carry out: budgeting; procurement and contract administration; and adequate management of transport related assets. The institutions lack the necessary regulatory and enforcement frameworks and personnel management systems.
  • Complex organizational structures lead to waste, excess fees, and gaps in service to the people.
  • There are overlapping responsibilities in the sector.
  • Poor maintenance policy/ arrangements are causing major damage to the roads already rehabilitated or constructed.
  •  Lack of Private sector more specifically the international private sector in the long term activities related to road sector (the maintenance), due to the uncertain, security, political and economic situation of Afghanistan.
  • Lack of local private sector capacity to participate in the implementation of transport related projects.
  • The transport sector needs an integrated strategy on a regional level where roads, airports and rail infrastructure are improved while, at the same time, related programs improve security, develop agriculture (extension services, alternative crops), develop water resources (irrigation and drinking water), provide accessible health and education facilities, and reduce the production and trade in narcotics.
  • There is a lack of coordination and communication within the transport sector governance institutions, as well as between these institutions and the institutions that govern the agriculture, rural development, water, education, and other sectors.

2. Opportunities

  • International Community Interest;During last seven years donors have taken lot of interest in the development of this road infrastructure and as per the data provided by Ministry of Public Works donors have committed US $ 2.2 billion dollars. However, all these funds go to road sector and very limited to other means of transportation such as Civil Aviation and rail links etc.
  • Land bridge between two important regions ; To capitalize on its strategic location as a land-bridge in the Central and South Asia region, integrating Afghanistan s markets with the global and particularly regional economies is of critical importance to the achievement of the national economic goals. Linkages with global and regional markets is not possible without good transportation system, the current investment in this sector has assisted the country to integrate in the region.

3. Current Rehabilitation Programme:

Regional Highways:These are roads which connect Afghanistan with its neighbouring countries viz. Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. They also connect neighbouring countries with each other. Major projects currently underway are the following:

Ring Road: Rehabilitation of the Ring Road has been given priority. This road interconnects the country, as it starts from Kabul and after going through Doshi-Pulekhumry, Mazar-e-Sharif, Faryab, Badghees, Herat, and Kandhahar it finally circles back to Kabul. The total length of the Ring Road is 2,210 km, of which 1,504 km (about 75 per cent) has already been rehabilitated. the total cost of the project is US$ 1,142 mn. It is expected that by end of 2009 the Rring Rroad will be complete.

Connections with the Neighbours:Roads that connect Afghanistan with its neighbours, and consequently connect countries in the region, include the following: Kabul-Torkham; Herat-Torghundi; Herat-Islamqala; Kandhahar-Spinboldok; Aquina-Andhkhoy; Delaram-Zeranj; Pule Khumri-Sherkhan Bandar; Khost-Ghulam Khan; and Naibabad-Hayratan. The total length of these roads is 1,153 km, of which 1,119 km has been rehabilitated and the remaining 34 km is under rehabilitation.

National Highways and Provincial Roads:Roads built according to highway standard and connecting regional highways with provincial capitals are called National Highways. These roads are vital, as they provide trade and commerce linkages and contribute to stability and economic growth in the country. Roads that connect district headquarters with respective provincial capitals are called Provincial Roads. These roads are also very important as they provide linkages to remote corners of the country. The total length of these roads is 2,547 km. About 1,470 km of these roads have been rehabilitated.

As noted earlier, most of the projects are implemented with the help of international community. The following table summarises this international assistance:

Funding Agency Fund Committed
(US$ Million)
Total Length(km) % coverage
(in founs)
% coverage
(in km)
USAID 788 1844 35.9 36.7
ADB 518 1253 23.6 24.9
World Bank 166 447 7.6 8.9
Japan 160 211 7.3 4.2
EC 118 166 5.4  3.3
India 86 236 3.9 4.7
Iran 83 216 3.9 4.3
Saudi Arabia 83 183 3.8 4.3
Pakistan 51 84 2.3 1.6
Italy 46 50 2.1 1.0
IDB 30.7 97 1.4 1.9
Kuwait 12.3 41 0.7 0.8
Canada 12.3 48 0.5 0.9
Afghanistan 78.8 135 3.3 2.7
Total 2,228.1 5,011 101.6 99.8

4. Current Planned Programme:

After the completion of Regional Highways, which have been given top priority, the following projects are planned:

Rehabilitation of the North-South Corridor:

The total length of this corridor is 410 km and includes the following components:

  • The first component which starts from Mazar-e- Sharif and reaches Dara-e-Soof is 140 km long. With the financial assistance of ADB, this is under construction.
  • The second component starts from Bamyan and ends in Yakawlang. This 100 km long road is under construction also with the assistance of ADB.
  • The third component, 40 km Yakawlang – Panj Aab, is still waiting for financing (estimated cost US$28 million).
  • The fourth component, 130 km road from Panj Aab to Tareenkot, is also awaiting financing (estimated cost US$ 91 million).

Rehabilitation of the East – West Corridor:

This National Highway is an alternate, shorter route from Kabul to Herat. Currently the connection to Herat is made through Kandahar with a distance of 1,050 km. With the construction of EW Corridor, this distance will be shortened by 250 km. The components of this section which are yet to be financed are:

  • 335 km long road starting from Herat Province and reaching Cheghcheran (estimated cost $ 234 million)
  • 330 km road from Cheghcheran to Garden-Dewar (estimated cost $231 million).

The above information is summarized in the following table;

Project/Road Name Length (km) Estimated Cost
(million US$)
Funding Source
NorthSouth Corridor
1.Mazar-e-Sharif -darisuf
240 140 ADB
East West Corridor
335 234
East West Corridor
330 231
North South Corridor
40 28
North South Section
Dare suf- Bamyan
180 126
North South Corridor
Herat Ring Road
300 120
Eshkashem-Faizabad 150 150
Jabalsaraj-Sorubi 100 40
Kabul City Ring Road 160 160
Khulum-kunduz 113 45
Charekar-Bamyan-Doshi 300 180
Total 2,248 1,454

In addition to these projects, two more roads are planned which are very important for regional linkages. These are:

  • Hiratan-Mazar-e-Sharif, Islam Qala – Herat Road: This road, starting from the crossing point with Uzbekistan and passing through two major Afghan cities, reaches the Iranian crossing point, connecting the regional corridor between Aksarayskaya and Bandar Abbas.
  • Sherkhan Bandar-Kunduz-kabul-Jalalabd-Torkham Road: Most parts of this road are two lanes and asphalted but it is necessary to make it a four lane road. This road starts from Sherkhan Bandar, the crossing point with Tajikistan, and connects major Afghan cities and reaches Torkham, crossing point on the Durand Line with Pakistan. It fills the gap in the Regional Corridor between Orenburg and the Karachi/ Gwadar sea port.

5. Investment Program for 2008-2012

Sr Section Km Funds Status
1 Second road between Kabul and Jalalabad 156 100 Detailed Engineering being got done, procurement  for first 50 km to start by Sep’08
2 518 1253 23.6 24.9
3 166 447 7.6 8.9
4 160 211 7.3 4.2
5 118 166 5.4  3.3
6 86 236 3.9 4.7
7 83 216 3.9 4.3
8 83 183 3.8 4.3
9 51 84 2.3 1.6
10 46 50 2.1 1.0
11 30.7 97 1.4 1.9
Total 41 0.7 0.8
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  1. December 28, 2011 at 6:12 AM
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