On the launching of construction of the first Afghan railway
On May 25, 2010 an opening ceremony of construction of Hairaton - Mazar-i-Sharif railway line held in the Afghan province of Balkh, which marks the birth of a railway infrastructure in Afghanistan.
The president of the Asian Development Bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, members of the Cabinet ministers of Afghanistan and diplomatic corpus, accredited in Kabul, attended the launching ceremony.
The road linking Afghanistan with a developed network of railways of Uzbekistan opens access to regional markets in Europe and Asia. The project is conducted on a US$165 million grant of the Asian Development Bank and be completed by the end of 2010. It should be noted that the Afghan government tender for construction of the Hairatan-Mazar-e Sharif has won Uzbekistan Temir Yollari Company. The project will be fully realized in the second half of 2010.
Uzbekistan constantly assists in reconstruction of macroeconomic complex of Afghanistan. In order to rebuild infrastructure in Afghanistan, at the initiative of the Uzbek side, during the official visit of President Islam Karimov to Iran (June 17-18, 2003), a trilateral agreement to establish the International Trans-Afghan transport corridor between Uzbekistan, Iran and Afghanistan was signed.
A Memorandum on Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif-Herat railway construction, which is a part of the Trans-Afghan transport corridor, was signed in November 2008 in Baku between the Bank and the governments of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan within the framework of the 7th Ministerial Conference of States Parties of the ADB's CAREC (Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation) Programme.
The Uzbek side is also ready to assist in training of Afghan railway specialists, who will continue to carry out repairs and maintenance of the said railway line after its commissioning.
Uzbekistan has always assisted the Afghan people in challenging times. And the launching of the construction of Khairaton - Mazar-e Sharif railway was a vivid demonstration of friendly relations between two countries. Besides the Uzbek side has actively participated in reconstruction of Mazari-Sharif – Kabul road. And by Uzbek experts on the specified route commissioned 10 bridges, which ensured the smooth freight traffic of Northern provinces to Kabul in the first years of Afghan statehood. Also on May 9, 2010 launching ceremony of the putting into exploitation LEP-220 electric power transmission line Surkhan - Khairatan - Puli – Khumri – Kabul to the energy network of Afghanistan capital.
According to international experts, the construction of the railway line Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif is a significant practical contribution of Uzbekistan in the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. This project not only will have a significant impact on the economy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as well as play an important role in implementation of efforts to create a trans-Afghan corridor, which will transform the future this country in a transit state.
ADB President Harihuko Kuroda noted that this project is one of the biggest and is aimed at economic recovery of many year war-torn Afghanistan, improving the welfare of people of the country. The fact that the railroad construction is conducted by Uzbek specialists once again testifies that Uzbekistan is not in words but in fact was and is the most reliable partner of Afghanistan.
H. Kuroda stressed that Uzbekistan will always remain a strategic partner for ADB in Central Asia, and that the Uzbek side was chosen as a main contractor for construction of new railway demonstrates it. It is symbolic that this ceremony takes place soon after the 43rd annual meeting of the Board of Governors of ADB in Tashkent in May, which has become one of the most successful in the history of the Asian Development Bank.
Omar Zahilval, Afghan Minister of Finance also appreciated Uzbekistan’s contribution to restoring the economic infrastructure of Afghanistan, noting both quality of the Uzbek specialists work and, importantly, the pace of the road’s construction, far ahead of a schedule.
Head of Ministry of Finance IRA expressed sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan for active cooperation and assistance in realisation of this project, for attention to needs of the people of Afghanistan. Taking into account Uzbekistan’s huge potential and experience in many spheres, including in construction, the Afghan side was interested in expanding Uzbek organizations’ involvement in economic projects in Afghanistan.
Railway Hairatan-Mazar-e Sharif in the extent of 75 kilometres to play an important role not only in development of the whole transport system of Afghanistan, but also in getting the country into international markets, expand its foreign economic relations in the long term.
Information Agency “Jahon”