Lapis Lazuli railroad project to be inaugurated in 3 months
MAIMANA (Pajhwok): Construction ofthe LapisLazuli railroad would help Afghanistan improving its economy and transport sector besides creating job opportunities for a large number of people, senior officials said on Tuesday.
Mohammad Shakir Kargar, president’s advisor on Central Asian affairs, said that Turkmenistan was paying the cost of the railway line inside its territory in addition to funding a three kilometresportion of the track inside Afghanistan.
During a visit tothe Aqina port on the Turkmenistan border in Faryab province, the presidential advisor told Pajhwok Afghan News that work on the project design would be completedover the next two to three months.
The project’s implementation would start with the construction of a 36 kilometres railway line from Aqina port to the Andkhoi district entre, he said. A second railway line, costing $200 million to be provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), would connect the port with Hairatan in Balkh province.
At meetings with military and civil officials of Faryab, he gave the go-ahead to the creation of security, cultural, infrastructure development, transport and protocol committees for the inauguration of work on the rail project.
The railroad would connect Afghanistan through the Silk Route with Europe and South Asia -- a project to be inaugurated by the leaders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan at the Aqina port in the next three months, Kargar announced.
He said: “This project is of national and international importance. Its inauguration has historic value for Afghanistan and help improve our economy. Besides boosting the transport sector, it will generate job opportunities for a large number of Afghans.”
Around 3.5 million tonnes of cargo would be transported through the port in the first year after the railroad’s construction, he said. The amount of goods transportation through the route will increase to 10 million tonnes till 2020. The railroad will be an alternative to Iran and Pakistan ports.
Faryab Governor Syed Anwar Sadaat said preliminary workon the Lapis Lazuli railway line had already been launched and arrangements to hold a ceremony for welcoming foreign guests were also being made.
“Construction of the rail track will transform the fate of our nation and play a vital role in strengthening Afghanistan’s and regional economy,” he remarked, calling insecurity a major challenge to the implementation of the project.
Sadaat said the Taliban militants might create insecurity to torpedo the project.However, senior government leaders are determined to take all possible measures for the implementation of the project.
The corridor connects Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey via road and rail, providing an appropriate transit trade route across Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and Central Europe. It will also connect South Asia to European countries.
When built, the railroad will remove trade barriers, harmonise customs systemsand boost trade between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It will help cut transaction costs and expand market access.
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