Market opening highlights progress west of Baghdad
April 30, 2009
BAGHDAD - The Abu Ghraib district is undergoing a joint effort to not only provide security for the population, but also improve essential services and strengthen the local economy.
Over the past 12 months, U.S. Soldiers have planted the seeds for security and infrastructure through projects like the opening of the new Abu Ghraib market in western Baghdad.
In a ceremony hosted April 29, and attended by key leaders from the Abu Ghraib district, Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces, the Abu Ghraib Market was signed over to Iraqi control and declared ready for business.
"This new and safe market is a gift from the American people to the local citizens of Abu Ghraib," said Col. Joseph Martin, commander, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad. "The opening of this market is a big step but one of many as we work together to move forward with progress in the future."
The construction of the Abu Ghraib Market did not happen overnight.
Planning for the project began in May of 2008, and after Col. Martin's units took control of the area, the market was identified as a critical project, which could greatly improve the lives of the local population.
"This market represents the culminating efforts of 11 months of planning and working with contractors and project managers," said Capt. Mathew McKnight, a native of Carlisle, Pa., Civil Military operations officer, 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, operationally attached to the 2nd HBCT. "The market offers the residents and vendors of Abu Ghraib a shopping experience that most people in Iraq have probably never had before."
The unique aspect of the market is its closed air frame, rather than being out in the open the market is inside a building with air-conditioning and power outlets at each stall.
The project also required a joint venture for providing security during the construction phase. With help from their partners in the 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and support from the local population, the Soldiers of the battalion were able to see the project through to completion.
"Paxton" Soldiers have been hard at work in the district; having recently refurbished a 33 kilovolt power line to provide more dependable electricity to the citizens of Aqur Quf as well as the opening of a water treatment facility in the Khandari area and renovating numerous schools in the region.
"Like northwest Baghdad, each day we see indicators in the Abu Ghraib Qada of continued improvement," said Martin. "It's a result of the partnership we share but most importantly it's a result of the tenacity and resolve of the people of Abu Ghraib."
After the opening ceremony a group of distinguished guests from the community was able to tour the market and see the many distinct features, which set the market apart from any other in the region.
"Each stall has electricity, water and the ability to get it cleaned up. It is also out of the hot weather and air is moving in the building," said McKnight. "Most importantly the market is off the main road away from traffic, which increases the security situation; so it's better for Abu Ghraib as an entire community."