The news outlet Asia-Plus, with reference to First Deputy Minister of Transportation of Tajikistan Sukhrob Mirzozoda, reports that Tajikistan and Afghanistan have reached an agreement on the route of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railroad (TAT). The relevant agreement is expected to be signed by the end of the summer, after which the sources of funding will be identified.
According to the official, the feasibility study of the Tajik section of the TAT project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
Let us recall that the Asian Development Bank had originally intended to allocate a grant in the amount of $9 million to carry out the railroad feasibility study. However, in 2016 it became known that the funding was suspended due to a turbulent situation in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, according to the aforementioned media outlet, for over six months Turkmenistan has been denying access through its borders for semi trucks and rail carriages en route to or from Tajikistan.
As of today, according to Mirzozoda, the new routes have been identified. One stretches through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan’s port of Aktau and further to Baku via the Caspian Sea. The second overland route lies through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Georgia.
Deputy executive of the government-run organization “Tajikistan railroad” Usmon Kalandarov was quoted as saying that the routes turned out to be longer, but Tajikistan’s cargo companies were offered 50% discounts in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Turkmenistan did not official provide explanations over the refusal to allow Tajikistan’s trucks to cross its border, but Tajik officials are convinced that the reason is the delayed construction of TAT. The project used to be profitable for Tajikistan as Uzbekistan with Islam Karimov in power at that time refused to let the trucks go through its territory. However, the problem is gone and the investments in the construction of the new railroad, as viewed by Tajikistan, were no longer feasible.