Abu Ghraib Neighborhood Turns the Corner
As the sun crests the horizon and local merchants open their doors for another business day, a line of dump trucks forms in the Abu Ghraib city market.
This caravan sits waiting to receive their cargo of mangled steel, rubble and concrete lying nearby. The foreman issues sharp, quick commands to the drivers. As quickly as they come, they go. Each time, one truckload less of rubble and debris clears the area.
In an area synonymous with scandal, now there is renewed hope for continued progress and lasting security.
The truckloads of rubble come from a building destroyed during the height of fighting in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. A car bomb targeting innocent civilians and Iraqi Security Forces destroyed the building in 2007. Since then, the heap of rubble remained a reminder of the violent past.
The owner, Muhammad, has not been able to afford the removal of the debris and reconstruction of his building until now. As part of the Abu Ghraib market revitalization effort, a combined endeavor by the local government and Coalition forces, Muhammad applied and was approved for a small business micro-grant.
Work began the day he received his micro-grant payment and the change to the face of the north market is already significant.
The area had been restricted for safety reasons due to the instability of the remaining structure. It now thrives as other market vendors take advantage of micro-grants to renovate and enhance their businesses.
â€œI am losing money every month, because my building was destroyed,â€ said Muhammad. â€œBut now, I have the chance for a new start, a new beginning.â€
He said he will rebuild and then lease the units in the structure to new business owners.
The revitalization of the Abu Ghraib market is one of many essential service and public progress efforts underway throughout the Abu Ghraib Qada. It is one of the top efforts of Iraq government officials and Coalition forces in the area.
The market campaign targets an area of Baghdad previously known for stalled progress and poor security using an infusion of micro-grants, new projects and additional security. Cooperation between the local government and tribal and security leaders has paved the way for success in the area.
Solar lights are being installed to allow shopping past dark and for increased security. Roads and sidewalks have been paved, awnings installed over storefronts, sewage and trash cleaned up. Two large market annexes are near completion south of the main road through the market.
These will house the several hundred vendors currently occupying ramshackle booths along the busy road. Once complete, the vendors will be able to move away from the highly travelled avenue to a climate-controlled structure where they can better serve their patrons in a safer, more efficient and secure area.
In addition to the numerous structures and improvements underway, the ISF have developed a plan for combined security of the area and have emplaced several security barriers and checkpoints to ensure the area remains safe for local residents and market goers.
â€œAbu Ghraib has turned the corner,â€ said Khamel Abas, qada council chairman. â€œWe have always been a resilient city. Better security has paved the way for progress and happiness.â€
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 at 12:36 pm and is filed under War on Terror, Iraq, War on Terror, Iraq, Rebuilding, War on Terror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.