A huge hydro-electric turbine dragged 110 miles by British troops through Taliban territory in Afghanistan is being packed away because the cement required to install it cannot be delivered safely, it was reported today.
More than 2,000 UK troops led a dangerous operation to transport the turbine by road to the isolated Kajaki dam in northern Helmand in August and September last year.
The mission was hailed a success and it was hoped electricity provided by the turbine would help win Afghan hearts and minds.
But 15 months later the area continues to be besieged by Taliban fighters and the turbine’s components remain unassembled because Nato has been unable to secure a 30-mile stretch of road needed to deliver the huge amounts of cement required.
John Smith-Screen, head of energy and water projects for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), told the Guardian the turbine parts were being packed away and it was looking for other energy projects to invest in across Afghanistan.
He said: “Our message is that until we have a secure road we cannot continue with the installation of turbine two.
“When the turbine was moved in by British and American forces it was a huge effort and it was done in a point of time. But we can’t move in the large quantity of cement and aggregate that we need in a point of time, we need a sustained effort.”
He said a Chinese company CMIC contracted to install the turbine left overnight for security reasons and the agency had not been able to find an alternative sub-contractor prepared to do the work.
Mr Smith-Screen said USAID was deciding what to do with the turbine but the process of inventorying the parts and storing them away had already begun.