FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan - After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed their monthly survey of the new customs yard project near the Weesh-Chaman border crossing point between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dec. 8, they said the project was progressing smoothly and would completed on time. The new customs yard will serve as a landmark for the Spin Boldak district and help boost Afghanistan's economy by expediting the customs process, officials said.

This facility is vital to the success of Afghanistan's trade and economy because it is near the closest crossing to the Port of Karachi, one of South Asia's largest ports.

The new customs yard will streamline the customs process by consolidating traffic through specific lanes for inspections. It utilizes a design with bays that allow customs personnel to easily view goods transferred between cargo trucks.

The project is headed by Ceytun, a Turkish construction company, under the supervision of the project manager, Irfan Sakrak.

"The old yard was able to push through about 100 trucks a week and left the road congested," Sakrak said.

This hectic environment made it difficult for customs employees and security personnel to track people, vehicles and products. Sakrak said the new yard will accommodate 3,000 trucks a week, a significant increase in traffic that will help both the customs employees and villagers.

Afghan Border Police providing security at the construction site has allowed progress to continue throughout the day and night, which is uncommon for most construction projects in Afghanistan as they can only progress during the day.

Following the meeting between project officials, dates for completion were discussed for mid-2013 and placed in black and white.

Project officials said roughly 60 percent of the land projected encompasses is still debated and this argument is the last major roadblock before the project is completed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed the funding options to resolve disputes with the land owners and documentation is now sitting on the desk of Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, for approval.

"Completion of the customs yard is certainly going to increase revenue for Afghanistan," said Maj. George D. Hurd, the commander of Security Forces Assistance Team 9, or Team Liberty. "I am excited to see the benefits that will come from the completion of this project."

Hurd and his soldiers are from the Texas National Guard and have been partnered with the ABP in the area for the past month. He said they have worked well together so far and haven't seen any issues with security during the projects construction.

"This yard will be a landmark for the country's improvement and will also be the first structure in this area to do business in a modern setting," Hurd said.

Page last updated Thu December 13th, 2012 at 03:46