Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Afghanistan Transportation Sector

The principle role of transport is to provide or improve access to different locations for businesses and individuals, for both freight and personal movements. For the business sector, this includes connections between businesses and their suppliers and between business and their markets. For the household sector, transport provides people with access to workplaces, schools and shops. It connects them to social, recreational, community and medical facilities for personal and leisure activities.
Strategic Context
Afghanistan provides access to trade along north-south and east-west Asian corridors, through central Asia. As a “Geographic center of gravity”, Afghanistan has the potential to play a special role in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program, which supports investments in roads, energy and trade. Roads and rail links connect Afghanistan to the outside world and can connect Asia’s four different regions to each other. Internally, without other available transport infrastructure modes, roads predominantly connect Afghanistan provinces, cities, towns and villages.
Sector Performance, Problems and Opportunities
Afghanistan’s transportations system is comprised of inland waterways, air, rail, and road transport modes. Inland waterways are limited to the Amu Darya and its tributaries with the only formal operating inland port at Shirkhan Bandar. The country has some 60 airports and airfields spread across the country including two international and 22 domestic airports, which meet International Civilian Aviation Organization class 4 categorization standards.
Government Sector Strategy
Multiple government ministries are involved in the operation and regulation of the transport sector namely; MPW, Ministry of Transport, Independent Authority of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Urban Development(MOUD), Ministry of Rural rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Interior Affairs (MOIA) and other local authorities.
Corruption in Transport Sector of Afghanistan
Corruption in Afghanistan has been described as “a symptom of poor governance”. Corruption has pernicious effects on business in Afghanistan. Government regulations serve as a deterrent to moving business activity from the informal sector, where most of the economy remains. Informality restricts the growth of firms and economy as a whole. One reason not to grow is to maintain low level of visibility from fear of government predation. Much of the economy is based on imports, which gives government opportunities in transportation and customs. Variation in the levels of corruption for business in these two areas is difficult to forecast and manage, which discourages growth. State-owned enterprises and mentalities remain and choke private sector activities.
Corruption not only deters private investment, but also distorts government-directed investment. Practice may result in investment that do not meet defined public purposes and are conducted without transparent processes.
Given the extremely weak governance capacities in Afghanistan today, a “foundational” package of assistance is required, one which provides and prioritizes activities through an anti-corruption lens, and which attacks corruption by reforming or strengthening base governance conditions directly related to root causes of corruption, including:
The Afghan government  recognizes that wages paid to most civil servants, particularly those in sub-national government, are severe and for many barely sufficient to provide for a family much above poverty level. As a result, a “tolerance” for dealing with corruption associated with low paid government workers has developed and become wide spread, notwithstanding the corrosive nature of corruption even at the lowest levels of government.
Skills Sets
Civil servants need to be better trained and better managed if they are to be part of the solution to corruption, not part of the problem. In particular, training, coaching, and longer term professional development are required in technical areas, management, and leadership for positions directly related to anti-corruption initiatives.
Properly developed and operational zed systems (MIS) for financial, human resource or project management can help shed light on government operations. When integrated within a strengthened management capacity in key control ministries and agencies.
Advocacy for anti-corruption initiatives via civil society, and governance oversight and civic awareness via the media are fundamentally important in combating corruption. Anti-corruption efforts can be sustained only through a collective partnership of government, civil society and media.
Transportation sector plays pivotal role in terms of accessibility. And considering the geopolitical location of Afghanistan it can connect the four regions of Asia to each other. To realize this, Afghanistan shall take tackle corruption and eliminate the root causes of wide spread corruption in the public sector.