The U.S. Agency for International Development is evaluating bids to rebuild a portion of a heavily damaged major highway in Afghanistan. President Bush said on Sept. 12 that the U.S. had pledged $80 million towards reconstructing a 625-mile road from Kabul in eastern Afghanistan through Kandahar in the south and on to Herat in the west. Click here to view map

Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said each of their countries is committing $50 million towards the Afghan road project.

In a joint statement, Bush, Koizumi and Saud said the highway "is now in ruins." They add that the $180 million they are committing "should complete the bulk of this roadway."

U.S. AID expects to award its portion of the project soon, says agency spokesman Harry Edwards. It is unclear whether there will be one U.S. AID contract or multiple contracts.

Edwards said he couldn't specify when the award would be made, but it's clear that the donor countries want to move quickly. The U.S.-Japan-Saudi statement says that the countries "intend to begin initial construction before winter sets in and will make every effort to complete the entire highway--from Kabul to Kandahar to Herat--within 36 months."

Japan will concentrate the work it is funding on the Kabul-to-Kandahar portion.
U.S. humanitarian aid to Afghanistan has totaled $690 million in fiscal 2001 and the first 11 months of fiscal 2002, U.S. AID reports.