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Upkeep matters: Afghanistan, Uzbekistan renew railway project agreement

AT-KABUL: Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) on Sunday renewed the agreement with Uzbekistan for operation, maintenance and management of the 75km railway line from Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif for three more years with additional privileges.

Acting Minister of Public Works, Noorgul Mangal, said the new agreement would cost $19 million per year. He said the previous agreement between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan on providing commercial services and operation was ended recently. “Thus, the ministry extended the agreement for next three years with more privileges,” Mangal said while hinting about $13 million discount each year as per the agreement.

According to the agreement renewed today, Afghan traders are allowed to use the railway line to export goods abroad. Based on the previous agreement, the railroad was used only for import. The new contract also binds the Uzbekistani operator to pay taxes and train 50 Afghans each year.

He also pointed to the ongoing work on technical design and survey of other railway projects including railroad from Mazar-e-Sharif to Sher Khan Port and Herat to Toorghondi. These lines would link Afghanistan to the neighboring countries.

Uzbekistan’s Ambassador in Kabul, Yadgar Khoja Shadmanov, voiced his pleasure over renewal of the contract for additional three years and said that for nearly four years Uzbek specialists operated the railroad. He said that Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif railway line is a big commercial project for Afghanistan.

He stated that Uzbekistan is ready to help Afghanistan in fields of electricity, transportation and other commercial areas in future.

According to report the Hairatan-Uzbekistan rail project is the first substantial common carrier rail road project in Afghanistan. The project was started in January 2010 and completed in November 2010. The line was first opened to the public in August 2011, after successful completion of test runs. The railroad was built by the state-owned Uzbekistan Railways (UTY) with financial support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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