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Shahriston Tunnel in Sughd Province Inaugurated

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DUSHANBE (Asia-Plus) – Yesterday, President Emomali Rahmon officially inaugurated the Shahriston (شهرستان) Tunnel in the northern Sughd (سغد) province. The construction of the tunnel had taken six years.

Shahriston Tunnel under construction
The tunnel is of strategic significance for the region and will help Tajikistan come out of the transportation deadlock. It allows making the drive from Dushanbe to Khujand in less than two hours, as it cuts nearly 20 km from the trip.
(Photo: courtesy of ABC DEF)
The Dushanbe-Chanak automobile road is critical, connecting the central and northern parts of the country. The main part of the road is located in geographically and climatically difficult conditions. Many factors affect the quality of the road infrastructure, such as mountainous rivers and high mountains, sharp temperature drop, frequent rockslides, mudflow and avalanches. The only one alternative of this road leads through the neighbouring countries and due to some reasons is not an easy solution for the local users.
In order to increase the functioning period of the highway from 5-6 months per year to 12 months, the decision was made to immediately introduce a tolling mechanism on this difficult route, financing the cost of its maintenance.

The 5,252-meter Shahriston Tunnel is part the Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak (دوشنبه-خجند-چنک) highway rehabilitation project. It is constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). The cost of the construction of the tunnel is US $51.7 million, funded by grants and loans from Beijing.

The whole Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak highway rehabilitation project was launched in summer of 2006. The same Chinese company – CRBC – won the tender for a cost estimated at $295.9 million. Chinese government provides $281.1 million in the form of long-term loan. The loan carries a 20-year period and an interest rate of 2% per annum. The Tajik Government provided the remaining some $14.8 million.

Ayni-Uzbekistan Border Road

In the inauguration ceremony, President Rahmon announced the launch of the rehabilitation project of a road between Ayni-Panjakent and the Uzbek border in northern Tajikistan. Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $100 million grant to help Tajikistan upgrade this vital road, which is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 6 that spans about 10,000 km linking Europe and the Russian Federation to the Middle East and South Asia.

The road improvement project includes:

  • rehabilitating and reconstructing of approximately 113 km of road between Ayni–Panjakent districts and the border with Uzbekistan, and of 31 bridges;
  • improving road safety by promoting community road safety awareness and strengthening Ministry of Transport’s road safety management capacity; and
  • upgrading Sarazm border-post infrastructure and improving living standards in local communities.

Beside ADB, OPEC provides a $14 mln loan and the Government of Tajikistan funds the remaining $22 mln.

The 113-kilometer road – part of the historic Silk Road – runs along the Zarafshon (زرافشان) River through the Zarafshon Valley, crossing the Ayni (عینی) and Panjakent (پنجکنت) districts before ending at the border with Uzbekistan. The improved road will increase regional connectivity, reduce transport costs, and strengthen competitiveness. It will also improve access to markets and social services for impoverished local communities; stimulate development of agriculture, tourism and mining industries that in return create job opportunities; and contribute to improved living standards in the region. The project is expected to be finished in spring of 2016.

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