Brief statement On the latest developments and future plans of the Afghanistan Railway Authority By H.E Wali Khan Shabgeer, Chairman of the Authority At the 27th UIC Regional Assembly for Middle East (UIC RAME)
Video Conference, Monday, 21 June 2021
Bismallah Rahman ul Rahim
Mr. Ali İhsan Uygun, the Chairman
Mr. Saeid Rasouli, 1st RAME Vice-Chairman,
Mr. François Davenne, UIC Director General,
And respected representatives from the railway departments of the UIC-RAME member countries;
Thank you for providing this opportunity to address the Assembly.
I offer my best regards to you all, and would like to thank UIC Middle East Office, as the coordinating body of this platform, for organizing this timely Video Conference and inviting me to share my perspectives on the latest railways developments and future plans of the Afghanistan Railway Authority.
Afghanistan has recently started its journey of railways development to enable necessary foundations for translating the development vision of Afghanistan to become “the Asian roundabout, where goods, ideas and people will flow in all directions. Against this landscape, investment has been channelized to unlock connectivity potentials.
We envisage to construct over 5,000 Km of railways within the country. Currently, however, we have built about 230 Km of railway links, connecting Afghanistan with three neighboring countries, Iran in the west and Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan in the North through four different corridors.
The average annual freight from these railways links with Uzebekistan and Turkmenistan counts for near 5milllion tons. In the very immediate future we would witness full utilization of our railway links with Iran.
Like in many other parts of the world, the inconvenience caused by Covid19 pandemic, has interrupted transportation facilities including airline services and other, however, our railway links turned be a mercy to ensure supply of food and goods for the people of Afghanistan in this difficult time. Hence, given the increased challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, regional cooperation is more critical than ever to ensure connectivity throughout the region. This to happen, railways can act as a catalyst for driving the industry’s economic recovery in the post-pandemic world.
Despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with increased violence by insurgents, we were able to complete a number of major railways projects in 2020. In addition, we were able to obtain the membership of Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF).
To expand the Khwaf-Herat corridors, the Government of Afghanistan has partnered with a Kazakh company to construct 43Km additional rails infrastructure, which is expected to be completed in the near future.
Afghanistan Railway Authority has also completed the detailed survey and detailed design of Phase 2, Section 4 of Khaf-Herat railway for another 44km. The procurement package for starting construction work of its infrastructure will be completed in near future.
As part of our future plans, we are committed to expand our railways network with an assistance of regional countries and development partners. Some planned mega projects include the following:
- In January 2021, we agreed on a roadmap with Pakistan, and Uzbekistan to build the Mazar-e-Sharif to Peshawar rout, via Kabul. This project, at an estimated cost of about $5 billion, will open Pakistani seaports on the Arabian Gulf to Uzbekistan and will continue Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s gradual integration into the Central Asian economic system. A specialized team has been set up by the Afghanistan Railway Authority to look after the project initiation, and a high level delegation from Uzbekistan and Pakistan is expected to see and assess the possible routes for the railway very soon.
- Afghanistan Railway Authority is also planning to connect with Pakistan through Speen Boldak of Kandahar AND envisages to assess connection between Ghulam Khan and Miramshah.
- Connecting with Tajikistan via Shirkhan port is under consideration too.
Overall, as a strategy of prioritization, constructing links between trading ports of Afghanistan remains a key focus of Afghanistan Railway Authority.
Besides paying attention to major development projects, transforming Afghanistan Railway Authority into a strong regulatory, technically empowered, modernized and digitalized institution to advance the connectivity objectives also remains a key focus area of the government.
To further strengthen cooperation among the members, we are interested to explore partnership opportunities with UIC Middle-East Railway Training Centre. We would be delighted to discuss this further with Center on bi-lateral basis. I also urge the platform to look into a possibility of establishing an expert pool, where member countries can borrow its expertise as needed.
In the end, I once again thank the office of UIC Regional Assembly for Middle East for bringing all of us together to discuss opportunities, regional strategies and actions.
Afghanistan Railway Authority looks forward to closely working with you.
Thank you for your time and attention.