ASTANA, January 14 – On January 9, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved a loan of $196.5 million to Kazakhstan to rebuild and expand the road connecting Shymkent City to the Uzbek border.
The expansion is a part of the project to create the Western-Europe-to-Western-China international transport corridor. The expanded road will boost regional trade by facilitating the transit of goods and passengers from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Western Europe.
The project will also encourage the growth of private sector companies in carrying out related engineering and maintenance contracts.
The Western-Europe-to-Western-China international transport corridor is a national strategic project designed to increase the volume of cargo transported through the country by 2.5 times from 13 million to 33 million tons per year by 2020. It involves a massive government investment in creating new roads and in modernizing and expanding existing ones as part of the greater international Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus Asia (TRACECA) project.
The new transport corridor runs from the Chinese border in southeast Kazakhstan through Almaty, Taraz, Shymkent, Kyzylorda and Aktobe and to the northwestern border with Russia. It will provide the shortest overland transportation route from the Central Asian nations to Europe.
The new corridor will allow goods to be transported over land from Lyanyungan port in China’s northeastern Jiangsu province to Western European nations over land in only 10 days in trucks driven for 10 hours a day at an average speed of 80 km/h or 48 miles per hour. It will serve overland trade along three axes: China-Kazakhstan, China-Central Asia and China-Kazakhstan-Russia-Western Europe.
Several international financial institutions, including the EBRD, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) are co-financing the project along with the Kazakhstan government.
The road from Shymkent City to the border with Uzbekistan is 99 kilometres (60 miles) long. The EBRD will finance reconstruction of the 62-kilometre (37.2 miles) southern section to the border and the Asian Development Bank will finance the remaining 37-kilometre (23.8 miles) section to Shymkent.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications of Kazakhstan will direct the project and it is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.
“The EBRD has funded a number of transport projects in Kazakhstan to help modernize the infrastructure of the country and support sustainable economic growth. The road from Shymkent to the Uzbekistan border is of great importance for the whole region. For the last 3,000 years, merchants from Europe to China travelled through Kazakhstan along the Silk Road. Today, the country is modernizing the same routes to improve trade and regional integration,” said EBRD Managing Director for Infrastructure Thomas Maier.
The EBRD will assist Kazakhstan in promoting economic diversification and more sustainable economic development.
So far, the EBRD has invested $5.9 billion in 158 projects in Kazakhstan since Kazakhstan became the member of the bank in the early 1990s.