Friday, November 7, 2008
Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, has opened a new terminal at Kabul International Airport. The US$35m (£22m) two-story structure was gifted by Japan as the old terminal building had become badly damaged by decades of war.
Speaking at the event, attended by 150 Afghan and Japanese officials, Karzai expressed his gratitude for the building, saying “Afghanistan could not have made this terminal on its own for many years or without lots of effort.” The new terminal is built next to the original sixties building, which had been considered luxurious when new but has fallen into decline, especially after the 1979 Soviet invasion and the civil war which followed.
Increasing numbers of military aircraft joined the commercial passenger planes, making Kabul International a frequent target of rocket attacks. It was in a poor state of repair, as well as outdated and in need of expansion, by the time the Taliban were ousted from Afghanistan.
Karzai implored his people to take proper care of the new terminal, which Afghan officials described as a step along the route to reconstruction after the Taliban were deposed.
“I hope, now this facility has been handed over to us, that our sisters and brothers, those in charge of the airport, the passengers passing through, the state officials and MPs using it, will look after it and they should not allow, God forbid, that we come here after a year and find its windows, doors and tiles broken,” he said.
The building will enter service next week, in time to carry passengers to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage of the Hajj. It has a capacity of one million passengers every year, and will service both domestic and international routes.