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Trouble ahead

Of the infrastructure that was intact following the rule of the Taliban, little today remains after the bombing by US forces and the fighting between the warlords and the now deposed regime.

Despite the loss of services and infrastructure the population has trebled to 3M. But the greatest constraint on any redevelopment is not financial. 'Attracting firms who are willing to risk taking on a project here appears to be the biggest stumbling block, ' says commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Simon Leavy.

So far UK firms have shied away from potential projects, with the only interest currently coming from the Far East. Local firms have insufficient credit to fund large schemes.

'There is a terrific amount of foreign aid channelled towards infrastructure rebuilding - one mooted scheme is a 400km highway trade link between Kabul and Jalalabad, ' Leavy adds.

The intermediate authority in Afghanistan sees the risk posed to contractors as a real albatross around the neck of future development. So laws preventing foreign firms from owning Afghan assets and land, and restrictive tariffs, were abolished last month.

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