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Azerbaijan notes rapid growth of its transit potential

20 February 2024 08:30 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan notes rapid growth of its transit potential
Qabil Ashirov
Qabil Ashirov
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The location of Azerbaijan in a favorable geographical location has been of exceptional importance in the formation of the country as a world trade hub for centuries. Many steps have been taken in the country to further develop and shine as a home for the traditional silk road crossing through its territory, and thanks to this, Azerbaijan has not only succeeded in its goal but has also become a hub for transit corridors connecting the North to the South and the East to the West.

It is no coincidence that these opportunities are increasing year by year, and the interests of the world are beginning to focus on this mysterious country located in the South Caucasus. For this, it was necessary to approach the issue more deeply, and we discussed the transit possibilities of Azerbaijan with transport expert Rauf Aghamirzayev.

Speaking to Azernews on the issue, the expert said that the transit potential of Azerbaijan also depends on the infrastructures of the countries located on the transit corridor. It is important not only how much cargo Azerbaijan can transfer, but also how much cargo is transferred to Azerbaijan and accepted from it.

“How much cargo Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan can transfer to Azerbaijan, and how much cargo Georgia and Turkiye can take. It is a general issue. However, we have data from the time of the USSR. At that time, the maximum freight capacity of the Azerbaijani railways was 100 million tons. This is quite a large number. For comparison, the capacity of Constanta port in Romania has reached 92 million tons together with Ukrainian cargoes,” he said.

Aghamirzayev added that different things should be done here, as well. More precisely different independent states, their customs procedures, and different financial institutes should work as a team. Azerbaijan's position is clear and it has done a lot of work and continues to do so. He noted that Azerbaijan the indicators also show positive dynamics. But our potential is greater. Besides, it is necessary to increase the number of ships in the Caspian Sea. We have opportunities in this field.

“As is known, Azerbaijan has the shipyard. It is also necessary to increase the number of ships in the Black Sea, as well. The construction of Anaklia port, whose foundation will be laid this year, is important. Also, highways and railways connecting Alat and Poti ports must meet the requirements and speed parameters of the modern era. Although the Azerbaijani side has completed these tasks, the work is still ongoing on the Georgian side. The construction of certain complex areas, the crossing at the Rikoti pass is planned to be completed this year, but in general, Georgia is still lacking. For example, the Tbilisi ring road, the distance from Rustavi to the Red Bridge, etc. Georgia expands Tbilisi-Lagodakhi road into a four-lane highway for the transfer more cargo. Construction is still underway on the initial 35 km section. That is, these works must be completely finished. At the same time, these works should be done on the railway. In other words, sufficient investment should be made in Georgian railways. Also, new electric locomotives and diesel locomotives should be purchased to be able to receive and transfer these loads promptly,” R. Aghamirzayev said.

He noted that the Azerbaijani side works following the current reality. In addition to the Alat port, there are newly built ports of Hovsan and Zira. All these ports are connected with railways and roads. This is an advantage. At the same time, if an increase in cargo is observed, the construction of new terminals or new ports in the future, for example near Sumgayit, can be considered. Why near Sumgayit? Because, the Tagiyev station, which was the largest classification station during the Soviet era, is located near Sumgayir. That is, it would create additional opportunities. However, this is an issue that depends on the future freight cycle.

“Another nuance is the modernization of our railways. I think there is a serious need to purchase equipment. We have purchased but I think we should purchase extra. The old equipment has reached the end of its life. It is possible to extend their life by repairing them, but newly bought equipment can be used longer. Therefore, they should make serious investments in this area to increase our maneuverability. The railway infrastructure itself is being repaired, and the road along the East-West corridor is already being modernized,” Aghamirzayevsaid.

Pundit noted that the overhauling of railways in the country is expected to be completed by 2028. He emphasized that another topic - the change of production location is currently on the agenda in the world. The events in the Red Sea have made it necessary to relocate these production facilities. Therefore, the importance of the countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, which are located in the middle of Eurasia, has increased. Simultaneously, the importance of connecting different regions of a country and the connection with neighboring countries has increased as well.​

“In general, Azerbaijan has done great work during these years. Mainly, works on highways from the north to the south, from the east to the west of the country are almost finished. Bypasses must be built in some areas and this does not hinder the general work. International reports show that Azerbaijan ranks first among the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States in terms of paved highways, and occupies one of the most important places in the world.

However, in the next ten years, work on railways should continue and investment should be ensured, because the country's reputation in the region, on the continent, and in the world is increasing, and transportation - logistics will take the main place here.

​Azerbaijan has made investments over the years in five different types of transport passing through it. That is, the airport infrastructure in the country ensures the movement of air corridors in different directions. Azerbaijan’s transport company is included in the top ten.

Due to its marine infrastructure, Azerbaijan has a monopoly position in the Caspian Sea. It has a modern port infrastructure and about 500 ships. It also increases these maneuvers with the help of its own shipyard.

As for pipeline transport, this year will mark the 30th anniversary of the contract of the century. Pipeline transport is almost the most important tool that added strength to the power of Azerbaijan in the years of independence and gave it a say in the region. For 30 years, Azerbaijan, a landlocked country, managed to build a system of pipelines and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railways to the Black Sea basin, the Mediterranean basin, and the European continent. This has created opportunities for maneuvering not only in Azerbaijan but also in other landlocked sister countries,” the expert concluded.

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Qabil Ashirov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @g_Ashirov

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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