DUSHANBE/PANJI POYON, Tajikistan -- The U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan said Washington's investment in a customs post on the Tajik-Afghan border shows its interest in battling drug trafficking, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Ambassador Kenneth Gross said at the opening of the new Panji Poyon border post on July 21 that the United States invested $12 million into the project. He said the new customs post is a large complex of administrative and customs offices, a hotel, and even a restaurant for border guards and customs officials.
Nemat Rahmatov, Tajikistan's first deputy head of customs services, told RFE/RL the United States has also provided modern equipment such as the Radiscan, a device that can scan and detect drugs in a vehicle without any contact by border guards.
Shohizatullo Davlatov, an official with the joint Italian-Omani-Tajik company that constructed and equipped the new customs post, said such high-tech equipment will allow up to 100 vehicles per day to be fully examined. He said that previously only 10-12 vehicles could be thoroughly checked daily by officials.
In addition to the new customs post, the U.S. Defense Department also funded and oversaw construction of five bridges along the Tajik-Afghan border. It also invested millions of dollars in new equipment for border guards.