By Fatma Babayeva
Huge failure in the economic and political context by force of aggressive policy makes Armenia to mobilize different ways to hamper the regional development.
Armenia with limited opportunities is left outside the huge investment projects implemented in the region.
One of these projects is the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project which is of great significance for not only Azerbaijan and the region, but also for the entire Eurasia.
The Armenian diaspora have attempted many times to hamper the realization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, and these attempts are continuing, said Javid Gurbanov, the chairman of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC in an interview to the Business Year.
Gurbanov emphasized that there was even an outcry that the BTK project leaves out Armenia when an Azerbaijani company commissioned constructing this railway.
With regards to the project's technical updates and specifications, Azerbaijan Railways have almost completed 183km of the railway in Georgia, said the chairman, adding that only some minor details left to be finalized.
Initially, this railway will handle 5 million tons of cargo. However, the capacity will reach up to 17 million tons in the future, told Gurbanov.
He further noted that the Georgian part of the project will be completed by the end of 2016. After the completion of the Georgian portion, the only part left to complete will be in Turkey, and ground works have been almost finished there at this point as well.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being constructed on the basis of the Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.
Azerbaijan has allocated loan worth $775 million for the construction of the railway's Georgian section. The State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) finances the project in accordance with the Azerbaijani president's decree “On the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project activities” dated February 21, 2007.
Azerbaijan’s railway ambitions
Azerbaijan’s favorable strategic and geographic location on the intersection of major transport projects linking north with south and east with west enables the country to become a hub and a logistics center for transit and cargo transportation.
Azerbaijan is a participant of the North South international transport corridor running from India to Helsinki as well.
The transport corridor will bring $50-70 million of revenues per year to Azerbaijan, during the first year of operation, Gurbanov said.
The project envisages to connect the Persian Gulf with Malacca Bay through a multimodal transport system, as well as, to provide a connection to St. Petersburg and Helsinki through older railways constructed in Soviet times, he stressed by adding that Azerbaijan will be connected to Mumbai Port and Bandar Abbas Port.
Current figures indicate that there are 5 million tons of cargo moving between India and Europe and about 7-9 million tons between Russia and Iran. Azerbaijan would enjoy the opportunity to be involved in some of this activity, Gurbanov added.
He noted that in the first year of operation of the new railway, it is planned to transport 2-5 million tons of cargo, with plans to increase capacity up to 20 million tons in the future.
The North-South corridor will boost Azerbaijan's currency inflow and will create new employment opportunities for Azerbaijani citizens, according to Gurbanov.
The North-South transportation corridor is meant to connect the Northern Europe with South-Eastern Asia. It will serve as a link for connecting the railways of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
In addition, Azerbaijan Railways CJSC will acquire 100.88 hectares of land for the construction of a railway within the framework of the North-South project in accordance with the decision made by the country's Cabinet of Ministers.
Azerbaijan Railways will acquire 50.44 hectares of land, which are included in the construction of the railway section in the territory of Astara district of Azerbaijan till the border with Iran. 0.61 hectares out of these lands are owned by the state.
In addition, 8.53 hectares of land at the disposal of municipalities in Azerbaijan's Astara, Archivan and Rudakanar towns, as well as, 41.3 hectares of private property will be purchased for the state needs.
Azerbaijan Railways will have to carry out preparatory work for the purchase of land and submit their proposals to the country's Cabinet of Ministers. Beginning the construction will be possible only after the category of these land plots is changed.
The North-South route enjoys several advantages compared to other transport corridors; it is more profitable for each parameter than other alternative routes and will be profitable for all participating countries.
Fatma Babayeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Fatma_Babayeva
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