Tajikistan once again seeks Iran’s financial support for completion of the Istiqlol Tunnel

01/08/2016 14:35
Payrav Chorshanbiyev
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DUSHANBE, August 1, 2016, Asia-Plus -- Tajikistan is seeking once again Iran’s financial support for completion of the construction of the Istiqlol Tunnel, which connects the country’s central part and the northern Sughd province.

In a report released at a news conference in Dushanbe, Tajik Minister of Transport Sherali Ganjalzoda noted on August 1 that additional funds are needed for completion of the tunnel.

“These funds are needed to provide the tunnel with lighting, ventilating and fire-prevention systems,” said the minister.  “We have applied to the Iranian side for additional sides for these works.”

Ganjalzoda noted that the Tajik government was also ready to provide the part of the necessary funds.  He further added that additional funds provided by the sides in 2014 (Tajikistan and Iran provided 3 million U.S. dollars each) had been used for carrying out concrete works and creating temporary lighting system.

The Istiqlol Tunnel, better known among the population as the Anzob Tunnel, has been built with assistance of Iranian specialists.  Iran’s Saber International has constructed the Istiqlol Tunnel.

The total project cost was estimated at 40 million US dollars, and Iran has provided US$10 million in a form of grant and extended a preferential loan worth US$21 million to Tajikistan.

The Istiqlol Tunnel is a five kilometer long tunnel located 80 kilometers northwest of Dushanbe.  It connects the Tajik capital to Tajikistan’s second largest city, Khujand.  It is also a transit route between Dushanbe and Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent.  Previously, especially during the cold seasons, a lack of a direct link between northern and southern Tajikistan led to disruptions of commerce.  The tunnel makes the highway from Dushanbe to Khujand open for traffic the whole year round and drops the transit time by four to five hours.

An official opening ceremony of the Istiqlol Tunnel was held in July 2007; however, some works have remained unfinished.

In April 2013, Tajik parliament endorsed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the governments of Tajikistan and Iran on completion of the Istiqlol Tunnel that provides for allocation of additional 6 million U.S. dollars.  This amount included a US$3 million grant provided by the Government of Iran and US$3 million provided by the Government of Tajikistan.

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