Developing ideas to help Afghans rebuild

Herald Series: Zaki Ghiacy Zaki Ghiacy

AN OXFORD company director has travelled to the war-damaged capital of Afghanistan to help plan its regeneration and future development.

Zaki Ghiacy, of Botley-based property and construction consultants McBains Cooper, has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Kabul.

Mr Ghiacy gave advice on how to rebuild damaged districts in the city and how to deal with a tide of migrants, which has increased the population to six million people.

The 56-year-old said: “The first thing we need to do is establish a way through the upheavals that have inevitably arisen from conflict. In a way, it is the ultimate challenge in regeneration “We will review and assess what’s in place and what needs to be put in place to help lay the foundations for processes that will ensure international investment.

“One of the primary tasks is to sort out the resettlement of refugees who are returning from other countries or moving from rural areas.

“About 80 per cent of them live in informal settlements which have absolutely no infrastructure – there’s no water supply, no sewage collection and no drainage.”

Mr Ghiacy compared daily life in Kabul to the situation in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, with high levels of security in public places, such as shops and restaurants.

But he added: “Terrorism is there but most people live their lives normally and are very courteous and friendly. Schools are opening up and there are people working in the shops and offices.”

McBains Cooper was called in by the World Bank, which provides loans to developing countries, as part of a 10-year plan to redevelop Kabul.

Mr Ghiacy said a critical difference between this and other redevelopment projects he had been involved with, such as in former Soviet Union states, was that the Afghans wanted to carry out the rebuilding themselves.

“They don’t want anyone else to do it for them,” he said.

“They’re just asking us to show them what to do and then they will go ahead and do it themselves.”

Based on his experience, Mr Ghiacy has come up with a set of recommendations which will be considered by the Afghan government before hopefully being implemented in a pilot project.

While his precise plans are under wraps, he will be looking at building smaller housing developments and looking at ways of making homes, which can cost up to £100,000, more affordable.

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