Kabul, beyond its limits.
Kabul was once a relatively lush paradise for hundreds of thousands of people. But decades of war, immigration and chaos have turned the Afghan capital into a barely functional dustbowl.
The tired infrastructure is crumbling under the pressure of nearly five million people. 70% of Kabul is now a narrow, temporary development, with water, sewers and electricity shortages.
Somehow life continues. But the city seems to be closing in on its breakthrough.
There was no vegetation or lack of pavement on the surrounding hills, and there was a cloud of dust hovering over the city. Life is hard, especially in a very poor area like tap-e-maranjan, a dense, unplanned community embracing the slopes.
Aji Gul, who has lived nearby for the past four years, said: “there is no electricity. “There is no water, so we buy from private companies.”
He is a street vendor struggling to make ends meet. He was a rough man in his fifties, with a reddish-brown skin and once had a beautiful house in the city. He spent 10 years in Pakistan to avoid the fighting in Kabul. When he returned, he found that he could only live here in tap-e-maranjan.
He said the government had no plans to help the neighborhood. Residents are trying to tell the government they need services.
“There are a lot of problems, but we have no choice,” he said. “We can’t go anywhere else.”
Four years ago, he said there were lots of empty houses and vacant lots. There are people all over the country now.
Others want better opportunities to avoid fighting in other parts of the country. There were seventeen people in the small house in aguirre. Some of the houses here have more than 20 residents.
“The poorest people who come to this city are doubling, because it’s the closest thing they can get to a job,” said Jolyon Leslie, an architect from South Africa. He has worked in Afghanistan with various private aid groups for 20 years. ‘people tend to live with relatives and stay at home as long as possible,’ he says.
The hillsides near the mausoleum of nardisha – a famous landmark in Kabul – provide a unique perspective for Kabul’s development.
The land east of the city used to be agriculture.
Now, “as far as the eye is concerned, this is a low level spreading to the hills, so the cityscape has changed,” says Leslie.
On the other side of the hill, Leslie points out the old town and the old castle. He describes how it extends to a blue dome – Pul-e Khishti. It’s a 20th century mosque, but it’s in a very old place.
He said it had been the city of Kabul for some time.
Now, the center of the city is like a buoy floating on the sea. Once a culture, commerce and the center of the education class, the center of Kabul became more and more like a slum, Leslie said. As more and more of the poor get close to work, drugs, prostitution and criminal activity enter.
But the scene is not all bleak. There are some new tall buildings and areas where people are decorating their houses. The house is highlighted by bright pastels and mirrored Windows with a moving steel frame window on the hill.
“There is a very, very clear integration and gentrification process,” said Leslie.
He says people who use technology to seize government land are less worried about being kicked out, so they spend more on their homes.
“They are also more prosperous, there is no doubt about it,” he said, as he worked on the hillside opposite the house where the workers were building an extra floor. “The money came from somewhere – someone got a new job, someone bought a new store, so it was a positive sign.”
The city has economic growth. A lot of people are making a lot of money, working in the security industry, or working in high-paying jobs with foreign aid agencies.
At the same time, corruption and the country’s huge opium trade have also brought a lot of money. That’s why the gorgeous new multistory house that has sprung up around the city is called “poppy palace”.
Lesley says that while many of the houses on the hillside look like they are built from outside, many of the new buildings are very poor.
When the Kabul earthquake struck, he said, it was not a “if” question, “it would be very scary, depending on the intensity.”
“A lot of these buildings that look pretty good will come down like a deck of CARDS,” Leslie said.
Government service lag
Driving from the top of the mountain to the city centre highlights another challenge facing Kabul – transport. Most of the unpaved streets have been reduced by five to ten times the number of cars they have designed.
Most importantly, vendors, beggars, pedestrians, bicycles and donkey carts all compete for space. And there are no working traffic lights in the city. It could take hours from one side of Kabul to the other.
The town of Chindawol in old Kabul is an industrial and residential area.
“Most people in this area are shopkeepers,” said Haji Khahesta Gul, the owner of grain and other dry goods.
Before the Soviet invasion, sindavo was a region inhabited by education and elite afghans. It is also the main dry market. Things have changed over the years. There are already many people in this area, mostly illiterate and low-skilled.
‘ten years ago, he was doing very well, but he was getting worse,’ says Mr. Gul, 50. He points out that the city has doubled in size over the past decade.
“But in the last decade, the government has not seen anything fundamental,” he said.
Ghalub Nemat understands this. He is a government engineer in urban development. He said that 50 percent of the country’s urban population is in Kabul, and that the government has not kept pace with the city’s development over the past few decades.
He says about 70 percent of Kabul is unofficially developed.
“What the city of Kabul is doing, what our department is doing, they are trying to control the informal sector,” he said. “The government cannot do this.”
Nemat says that so far, there is no central sewage treatment system, and only 25 percent of people can drink drinking water directly, and most areas of the city have no or no frequent power supply.
He says the government cannot solve these problems, and he hopes the private sector will help fill the gap. But now the private sector seems more focused on pandering to the elite than the masses.
Rich new urban islands.
People like Nemat are increasingly turning to new schemes on the outskirts of cities where there is less pollution.
“There are poets, there are poems,” says Nemat. “there are too many books written in Kabul. “But I don’t see it now.”
One of the new communities is Shahrak Aria. It consists of dozens of five – and six-story gray – white apartment buildings, although there are more development stages. This is a closed, high-end community designed to be self-sufficient.
Compared to car horns, ice cream vendors or people on the street, you hear regular planes or helicopters, as it looks across the street from the airport.
Dr Mohammed Faridoon said: “the parking lot is very good, the children’s playground, the 24-hour water supply, the modernization drive, so we are all very happy.” Dr. Shahrak Aria moved here three years ago.
It has its own restaurants and grocery stores, as well as its own water and sewage systems. After the development, there will be thousands of apartments and a shopping center – people can only venture to work from the city’s islands.
“I like this because it’s a closed complex, very good in terms of security,” said farridon, who is in his 50s. He said it was quiet and peaceful, not like his old block, where the noise was full of problems.
In the end, there are many ways to get out of Kabul’s chaos – to isolate and isolate the struggling masses in a safe place. But very few people can hide in these gated communities. The rest are trying to survive in cities far beyond their capacity.