A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed in Ashgabat between the Ministry of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan and the Afghanistan Railway Authority.
Drafted by order of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, the Memorandum envisages a major overhaul of the railway track at the border station of Torghundi in Afghanistan.
As stated in the preamble, the Memorandum is based on economic, historical and cultural ties between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, and the successfully completed Atamyrat-Ymamnazar-Aqina railway project that has substantially contributed to promoting trade-economic relations between the two friendly neighboring countries, increasing trade turnover and rail freight transit.
The new document aims to strengthen cooperation, expand transport infrastructure between our countries and extend integrated services in the railway sector.
Given the condition of the railway line � from the Turkmen station of Serkhetabat to the Afghan station of Torghundi � its modernization envisions total rebuilding of the section that will be financed entirely by Turkmenistan. All in all, the project includes the construction of a 13-km-long railway track, approach lines, and modern infrastructure.
This will enable to enhance the station's handling capacity, and will increase its importance for land-locked Afghanistan's trade turnover. The track will ensure the most convenient and reliable way for the country to export domestic products to foreign markets and import goods from abroad. For instance, the Ministry of Railway Transport of Turkmenistan transported 13, 202 wagons of freight via the station of Torghundi in 2016 and 7, 886 wagons of freight over the running year's ten-month period.
Another step towards better integrated railway infrastructure of our countries has been taken in line with the recommendations formulated at the recent Seventh Regional Economic Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII) in Ashgabat.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov devotes special attention to relations with the neighboring country, making every effort to create favorable conditions for its sustainable development, full and successful
integration into regional and global processes, and the establishment of lasting peace and concord in Afghanistan. The essential aspect of the Turkmen side's position is a firm belief that the political settlement of the situation in Afghanistan can be achieved through peaceful and diplomatic means only.
The key issue for Afghanistan is the development of its socio-economic infrastructure. The President of Turkmenistan believes that economic expansion, job creation, massive social programs, increased living standards and rising educational level of the people are making a positive impact on the national situation and contributing to promoting peace and stability in the neighboring country.
The implementation of large infrastructure projects with Afghanistan's active participation (particularly, in vitally important areas such as the energy and transport sectors) is regarded as a determining factor for the country's political stability, economic and social revival.
Among them is the large-scale President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov-initiated project that envisages construction of a railway from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan (its first phase, the Atamyrat-Ymamnazar-Aqina Railway, was completed last autumn). Today, the countries are closely collaborating on the issue to continue the construction project in Afghanistan. In the long term, the railway is planned to reach the border of Tajikistan and to become a significant part of the Asian International Railway Corridor.
The project aims at Afghanistan's inclusion as an integral transport link in the regional network with easy access to countries of the in the future. This will open up a real possibility for the country to become a key node in international transport corridors, crossing Central Asia, in particular the North-South and East-West Corridors.
In this context, construction of the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey Transport Corridor is seen as a promising direction. The relevant pentalateral Agreement was signed at the RECCA VII meeting.
Noteworthily, power lines are well under construction along with the ongoing railway and highway projects. Given the additionally built power facilities, not only does our country stand ready to increase power supplies to Afghanistan severalfold, it is taking practical steps to implement new plans for power export as part of the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP) project.
According to the Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, the implementation of these projects will fundamentally transform Afghanistan from electric energy consumer into a transiter and a direct participant in the regional power-generation cycle and will bring positive benefits to the country.
Of great significance is the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, particularly in the context of strengthening energy security and stability in the region.
During the Memorandum signing ceremony, representatives of the Afghan side have noted that Afghanistan attaches much importance to cooperation with Turkmenistan that serves as a notable example of good-neighborly relations and meets the interests of peace, security and wellbeing not only of the two countries, but also on a wider scale.
Representatives of the neighboring country expressed their sincere gratitude to the Turkmen leader for his huge contribution and active position on the issues of socio-economic recovery and peaceful settlement of the situation in Afghanistan, having highlighted the significance of the large President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov-initiated projects in the fuel and energy sector, power industry, and transport-communications sector directed towards common goals in a regional and global context.
The ceremony attendees also stressed the importance of the Ashgabat RECCA forum that had served as a meeting ground for its participants to discuss opinions and proposals for closer cooperation in the region and had led to the preparation of the signed Memorandum.
The project realization will create additional prerequisites for Afghanistan's economic development, and will ensure a more influential role of small and medium business in the country, thanks to increased goods turnover and supplies � from imports of oil products to the IRA to exports of Afghan vegetables and fruit, to minerals, and others.
In this way, Afghanistan's transport network will be linked to Turkmenistan's railway system via the border station of Torghundi with access to third countries. This will make it possible to significantly increase volumes of interstate transport operations in the region in line with President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov's transport-logistics strategy.
Source: State News Agency of Turkmenistan