3 PARA opens business park in Helmand
The 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment have helped to reopen a massive Bazaar of more than a 100 shops in an area previously too dangerous for locals to do business in.
Seven months ago, members of 3 PARA arrived in Helmand province for their third tour of Afghanistan. In Chah-E Anjir, the largest town close to 3 PARA’s Patrol Base (PB), the market had all but closed down because the threat from insurgents was such that people were reluctant to move from their houses or trade.
After six-months of hard work, it’s a different story as the bazaar regularly comes to life after a joint investment project with local businesses, the Afghan National Security Forces and the Provisional Reconstruction Team which has combined to reopen the Bazaar as a new business park – Helmand’s equivalent of a shopping mall.
One of the village elders, Sultan Mohammed says it was not always the case:
“This used to be a thriving town, with a popular bazaar containing hundreds of shops. But it was destroyed by fighters.”
Since September last year, 3 PARA have worked alongside their ANA and ANP to restore security in the town which is home to more than 4000 people.
Lieutenant Colonel James Coates, Commanding Officer of 3 PARA, said:
“Our main focus has been developing the Afghan security forces and what we have seen is enormous change. The quantity and the standard of soldiers and police officers has increased significantly. Their capability has improved – they’re getting out into the town, interacting with the people, earning the trust and consent of those around them.
“As a result, the insurgency completely moved out of the area and confidence among the local people has increased significantly both in the ANA and ANP. I am particularly proud of what the whole battlegroup has achieved working with the Afghans.”
While 3 PARA have been conducting joint patrols to improve security, members of the District Stabilisation Team have been working with the District Government to help restore the bazaar to its previous glory.
The village mayor says he’s positive about the future:
“With better security, people will come back and when they do, they will buy things, the bazaar will thrive and that will benefit everyone here. ISAF have helped to make this happen.”
In a few weeks, 3 PARA will complete their tour and hand over to 42 Commando Royal Marines. Their job will be to build upon the successes of the last six months and oversee the completion of the bazaar.