The Afghan Ministry of Finance says Uzbekistan pledged to fund the Herat-Mazar-e-Sharif railway project during the Tashkent Summit this week.
Uzbekistan will put $500 million USD towards the project, Finance Ministry spokesman Ajmal Abdulrahimzai told TOLOnews.
“During the Tashkent Summit, Uzbekistan announced it would fund $500 million for part of Herat-Mazar railway project,” he said.
Afghanistan Railway Authority meanwhile said the project will cost $1.8 billion USD in total and that the Afghan government is looking to secure more funding from other countries.
According to the authority, once complete, the railway line will be an important transit route between China, Europe, Russia, Central Asian countries and South Asian countries.
The head of the authority, Mohammad Yama Shams, said there were other countries interest in assisting with the project.
“We have started primary talks with Iran because the railroad will connect to Iran. They have shown an interest. Serious discussions are ongoing with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which is in China and meanwhile, China itself is interested to invest in the railway (project),” he said.
The Afghanistan Railway Authority states the project will provide job opportunities for at least 30,000 people and Afghanistan would earn about $40 million USD annually from such a link.
“Any part of the railway project which will be implemented is a benefit for Afghanistan. But we should remember that a similar railway project was considered by Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The two countries had talks about it and we should be careful about this,” said Nazir Ahmad Najabi, lecturer at Kabul Polytechnic University.
The railway will be 657 kilometers long and will take two years to build.
The procurement details of the project will be completed by the end of this year and the contracting company will be selected in the near future, the authority said.