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Thursday April 25 2024

Shortcoming eliminated in Middle Corridor in parallel with growth on cargo volumes [COMMENTARY]

3 April 2024 17:33 (UTC+04:00)
Shortcoming eliminated in Middle Corridor in parallel with growth on cargo volumes [COMMENTARY]
Qabil Ashirov
Qabil Ashirov
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The importance of the Middle Corridor increases day by day, and the countries on the corridor are implementing projects to eliminate bottlenecks and shortcomings throughout its length.

Deputy Kazakh Transport Minister Satan Ablaliyev told Azerbaijani media that Kazakhstan implements several projects in this regard. He said that Kazakhstan is taking various measures to eliminate the shortcomings in terms of expanding the transmission capacity of this route as well as increasing its capacity.

According to him, Kazakhstan Railways JSC has already started implementing a number of projects on the construction of secondary roads to increase freight transportation.

He also spoke about the construction of a new road bypassing Almaty and a single window developed by Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia for transportation through the corridor.

For shedding light on the issue, the correspondent of Azernews addressed questions to expert on transport Rauf Aghamirzayev. The expert noted that, in general, the Middle Corridor has been on the agenda in recent years, and the reason for this is that a number of infrastructure projects have been implemented so far. He emphasised that projects are ongoing and additional work is needed for large volumes, and one of them is the project implemented in Kazakhstan. Currently, we know that there are two border crossings between Kazakhstan and China called Dostlug and Horgos for the railway. The third border crossing point is being built in the direction of Alamaty.

“Kazakhstan is generally a country with great transit potential. It is one of the important countries on the East-West Corridor. Other projects are being implemented in Kazakhstan. The construction of a bypass railway without entering the city of Almaty is one of these projects. The delivery of goods by means of this railway will take place one day earlier. However, another point is the transition to alternating current. Half of the way in Kazakhstan along the East-West corridor has been ensured with alternating current. But it would be better to switch to alternating current up to the port of Aktau, which will lead to 20 percent cheaper transportation of goods along the corridor,” Aghamirzayev said.

He added that another issue is speeding up work in the direction of increasing the transmission capacity of the ports and preparing a new road map in line with the growth. In the present case, the figures for different years were announced. He pointed out that by 2030, it is planned to increase the cargo transfer from presently 2.7 million tons to 10 million tons. In the case of container transportation, projects were announced that envisage the possibility of accepting 400 TEU containers. The Pundit noted that at the same time, in order to connect east and west in Kazakhstan, there is a need to build a highway connecting the city of Beyneu with the city of Shalkar, along with railways. In this case, vehicles coming from the Caspian should travel an extra distance to the north of the Caspian to go to the centre and east of Kazakhstan, which creates additional costs.

“Another issue is that the number of ships in the Caspian Sea should be increased. In connection with the Caspian basin retreat, dredging work should be carried out. Dredging works are planned at Aktau Port until 2025. Azerbaijan will also work in this direction. Our shipyard has received orders for the construction of these types of ships.

Besides, there is a need to complete the projects implemented in Azerbaijan so far. Azerbaijan State Railways has also announced that the section from Ujar to Baku will complete the transition to alternating current by 2028. One of the other infrastructure bottlenecks is the transmission capacity of the stations on the Azerbaijan-Georgia border. The station on the Azerbaijani side consists of 14 tracks, while the Gardabani station consists of 7 tracks. It means receiving twice less cargo from Azerbaijan and transferring twice less cargo from Georgia. Another problem is that these stations are located in residential areas. Therefore, their expansion creates additional problems. I think that both countries should take appropriate measures. Because if the importance of the corridor increases, the overdue stoppage of the freight train at the border may cause problems in the future due to a lack of infrastructure. There is a need to modernise the railway network and rolling stock in general on the territory of Georgia. Certain work is being done in this area. Kazakhstan's contribution in this field is greater. Because Kazakhstan itself already produces diesel locomotives and also manufactures AC locomotives. Azerbaijan purchased several products Kazakhstan and Georgia can do it as well. If Georgia, like Azerbaijan, switches to alternating current in the section up to the Black Sea ports, the transmission capacity of the corridor will increase, and congestion will disappear. Switching to the alternating current in Georgia will enable to reduce prices by 20 percent in transporting goods,” Aghamirzayev noted.

As for the road infrastructure, he emphasised that it can currently accept certain loads. But for the increased freight needs, some projects need to be implemented, and these projects have already been announced. One of them is the construction of the second phase of the Alat Port; and Anaklia Port in Georgia, whose groundbreaking ceremony was announced, will take place this year. Pundit noted that all these are elements that increase the transmission capacity of the corridor.

“Currently, regular block trains run from Germany to Turkiye via Romania. Taking into account that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will be put into operation after major repairs, diverting these block trains from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan is also on the agenda.

Besides, a joint Middle Corridor Multimodal Road Company was established between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Georgia. The purpose of creating this company is to remove bureaucratic obstacles in the corridor. As bureaucratic obstacles are reduced, faster transit of cargo will be ensured. I think that the work in this direction will continue, and as cargo growth increases in the coming years, we will ensure more efficient transportation through some corrective work. The main issue is having a road that can carry this load. A faster transition will be ensured by the availability of reception facilities in line with the increased cargo demand and the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles,” the economist added.

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

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