The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
Opinion

Railroad enabling Afghanistan to become regional transit hub

With the Islamic Emirate takeover, efforts have been made to complete the missing regional railway links and start new railroads as the railroad infrastructure is significant for Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate is working to change Afghanistan as a transport and transit hub in the region. Afghanistan is in a good geopolitical position in Asia; therefore, the key policy of the Islamic Emirate is to pay particular consideration to the railroad infrastructure in the country. In northern Afghanistan, Hairatan is the main border town connecting Afghanistan with Uzbekistan. Every day, thousands of goods mostly flour and wheat are unloaded by hand to trucks to ferry them around the country. Just 75 kilometers long, it is an important part of the Islamic Emirate’s ambitions to revive several dormant railway projects. The long-envisioned Trans-Afghan Railway aims to eventually connect Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan with 700 kilometers of track, backed by the three countries that have established a working group. The Trans-Afghan Railway is considered as the most significant railroad project connecting countries in the region. For now, Hairatan is key for Afghanistan as it has changed as the main trading zone in the country’s north. In addition to foodstuffs and logs from Russia, fuel and other materials arrive in Hairatan from Central Asian countries and China. Currently, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan have the aspiration to see the TransAfghan Railway completed so that they increase their trade by rail. All are saying that the Trans-Afghan Railway will soon become the economic corridor between Central Asia and South Asia, which is absolutely true. There is also another line of more than 200 kilometers at the other end of the country is intended to connect the city of Herat with its western neighbor Iran, providing Afghanistan with an outlet to the sea, Turkiye and Europe. This is a project envisaged for some 15 years, long before the Islamic Emirate takeover in mid-August 2021. The Islamic Emirate has paid particular consideration to the railroad project as railway transport is the fastest and cheapest means of transporting goods. The Islamic Emirate is in discussions with various countries and financial institutions to fund the actual work on the Trans-Afghan rail project. It is said that the construction phase will take three to five years. Preliminary figures suggest a price tag of $4- 5 billion. Afghanistan needs both financial and technical aid to complete the project. Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, as well as Russia, are already working with Afghanistan. Other countries, such as Iran, can also provide support. There are still possibilities for the completion of the rail projects as all countries in the region want to support Afghanistan in this area as they are already supportive to Afghanistan. As the Islamic Emirate is focusing on the railroad in the country, there are hopes that with the completion of most railway projects, landlocked Afghanistan will soon have access to the sea and connect it with international trade routes, which significantly impact the country’s economy. The more kilometers of railways are developed in the country, the more our trade with other countries will increase. Mashal Noori

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.