Traders want start of northern train
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Traders are calling for the inauguration of the newly constructed Heratan-Mazar-i-Sharif railway in the northern province of Balkh.
The 75-kilometre long railway which connects the dry port of Heratan to the capital of Balkh province has taken one and a half years to build and cost $129 million, provided by the Asian Development Bank.
Heratan is an important dry port, having a border with Uzbekistan, and connecting Afghanistan with Central Asian countries. It is estimated that about 75 percent of Afghanistan’s fuel comes through the Heratan dry port.
As soon as the railway was opened, it would reduce the cost of transporting goods, head of Balkh Bastan fuel company, Peer Mohammad, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The current cost of transporting a ton of fuel from Heratan to Mazar-i-Sharif is $20, while the same weight of other goods is $12.
The goods of traders would also directly go to Mazar-i-Sharif and be checked just one time at the border which would decrease the transportation time, he said.
Construction of the railway had been completed and they would contact officials to inaugurate it, an official of the dry port, Najibullah, said.
A delegation from the ministry of public works and Asian Development Bank would go to Uzbekistan on April 20 to sign an agreement to launch the railway, deputy minister of the ministry, Ahmad Shah Waheed, said.
The railway would bring many changes to the economy of Afghanistan, he said.
But head of the Afghan Trans Company, Zabihullah, said the train would cut their business activities by 60 percent.
Afghan traders would not be allowed to transfer their goods by train for three years, while the International Security Assistance Force could use the train to transport their supplies, he said.
"If it is true, the railway would not benefit Afghan traders," he said.
Najibullah, of the dry port, said that the international troops would use the train to transport their supplies,
It is the second longest railway in the country. Work on a 61-km-railway was launched by Iran at a cost of $75 million and is still underway. It will connect the border of Iran with Ghoryan district of Herat.
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