Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan establish railway link

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan establish railway link : The new Bolashak-Serhetyaka railway will open opportunities for regional co-operation and economic development, analysts say.

The opening of a railway between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will not only help develop ties between the two countries and boost their economies, but it will also help the region as a whole, analysts say.

“This project can have a positive impact on the general situation in the region and beyond and can significantly boost stability and security in Asia,” Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said.

The inauguration of the 148km-long segment of the railway May 11 officially linked Bolashak, Kazakhstan, to Serhetyaka, Turkmenistan. The corridor eventually will be 470km long and will provide access to the Persian Gulf.

Turkmenistan is working to improve its transport infrastructure, said Raihan K., an employee at the Turkmen Railway Transport Ministry, noting that previously the countries had poor, roundabout transport connections.

“We co-operate with Kazakhstan in various spheres, and this line is important both for freight and passenger traffic,” he said.

Some, though, were sceptical of spending money on a rail project.

“The cost should be weighed against the general situation in the country,” economist and opposition politician Serikbolsyn Abdildin said.

“We are spending money left, right and centre and losing out on the chance to boost our economy and improve our standard of living,” he said.
Economic growth for both sides

But proponents contend that there will be economic benefits.

The new project will benefit the economies of both countries and of the region, Kazakhstani lower house MP Aitkul Samakova said.

For example, Kazakhstani grain, oil and oil products will be transported along the newly opened corridor – when it’s complete – to the Persian Gulf region, Daniyar Ashimbayev, a Kazakhstani political commentator and the author of several political and economic books, said.

“Kazakhstan does not have its own corridor to the sea, and most of the freight is transported by road and rail,” he said, adding that Kazakhstan needs this route. “One of the state’s most important tasks is to improve the transport infrastructure.”
Jobs for Turkmens and Kazakhstanis

Employment is another benefit of the railway. The construction created more than 2,000 jobs, which went to citizens of both countries, according to official figures from Astana.

About 1,000 more jobs will become available once the line is fully operational, forecasts predict.

The railway will also open up employment opportunities in related businesses like restaurants and tourism in the future, Tokhtar Aubakirov, adviser to the president of the Kazakhstan National Railway, said.

With the opening of the passenger line, Serhetyaka resident Asker Yusuf plans to open a small business selling prepared meals to passengers, he told Central Asia Online.

“If the demand is good, I will sell other goods on the train,” he said. “I heard that there would be other ways to make money on the railway, and that is a very good thing.”

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Source : centralasiaonline

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