Heavy Snowfall Paralyzes Transportation in Remote Badakhshan

With winter’s onset, the remote and border districts of Badakhshan are grappling with both the blessings and hardships brought by heavy snowfall. The snow has not only beautified the landscape but also posed severe challenges to the residents, with roads blocked and transportation routes disrupted.

The heavy snowfall and storms have led to the closure of transportation routes in ten districts, including Yawan, Kohistan, Raghestan, Khawan, Kofab, Shiki, Nasi, Maym, the main city, and Arghanj Khwa, effectively isolating these areas. The closure of these routes not only hampers daily life but also creates significant challenges for residents, limiting access to health centres and causing shortages of both food and non-food items.

Local authorities in Badakhshan report that in the past week, these districts have witnessed a complete halt in traffic and people movement due to the heavy snowfall. Mohammad Kamgar, the head of the Taliban’s disaster management in Badakhshan, acknowledges the efforts to reopen these routes but notes the recurring closures due to ongoing snowfall and storms.

The closure of roads has resulted in the loss of life and property. Kamgar reveals that six residential houses in the Argo district have been destroyed, and five people lost their lives due to snowdrift incidents. Urgent financial resources are lacking to address these issues immediately. The Taliban’s disaster management office reports the challenges to the provincial officials in Faiabad but struggles to reopen the routes.

Surajuddin Matokal, the Taliban security commander in the Yawan Badakhshan border district, highlights the severity of the situation, indicating that 90% of routes to the centre and the province are closed. He emphasizes the extreme difficulty in traversing these roads, making even on-foot or horse travel impossible.

The heavy snowfall and transportation route closures have severely affected the residents of these areas. Access to health services is limited, and travelling between villages has become nearly impossible. Residents express their concerns about increased prices of basic necessities and the challenges of transporting the sick to health centres using makeshift methods.

Moladad, a resident of Shiki district, while speaking with Kabul Now, describes the rising costs and the life-threatening situation for patients. Imad al-Din from Kofab district raises concerns about the lack of facilities and specialized doctors for pregnant women, necessitating transfers to the provincial centre.

Morad Bik from Kohistan district highlights the prolonged closure of routes, forcing urgent travellers to pay exorbitant fees for transportation. The difficulties faced by people during winter are reflected in the scarcity and increased prices of essential commodities.

Social activists in Badakhshan emphasize the need for collaboration and preventive measures. Hamzah Ahmadi, a social activist says that the roads of the districts witness heavy snowfalls every year in the winter, causing a lot of financial and human losses to the people. He adds that in such a situation, cooperating institutions and subordinate departments should move the available facilities and equipment to the vulnerable areas before the snow starts.

At the same time, Aminullah Habibi, another social activist says that because the roads in these districts are not asphalted, they are blocked at the beginning of snowfall, and after the snow melts, they face mud. He adds, “the solution is for the authorities to properly rebuild the public road leading to these districts in the summer season so as not to cause many challenges to the people.”

These activists call on responsible authorities to move facilities and equipment to vulnerable areas before the snowfall begins. Reconstruction of public routes during the summer is suggested to mitigate the challenges posed by dirt and gravel roads.

Residents of these districts urge health officials and institutions to send mobile teams to these areas, emphasizing the need for local government machinery to reopen the routes promptly. The recurring challenges during winters highlight the importance of long-term planning and preventive measures to safeguard the well-being of residents in these remote districts.

As the snowfall continues, residents hope for swift action and support to alleviate their struggles during these challenging winter conditions.