New railroad increases trade in Afghanistan

Source: NATO News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan (Dec. 9, 2010) – A railroad, under construction from the border of Uzbekistan to just beyond Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, is expected to see an increase in utilization by several organizations and traders upon its completion.

Last week, Afghan officials, international aid representatives and International Security Assistance Forces visited Hairaten to look at the railroad along the border-crossing to ensure that the railroad is being used and implemented to benefit the people of the area.

“Hairaten is the only border-crossing with a railroad in Afghanistan,” said Kerry A. Powell, director, ISAF Joint Command Commanders Emergency Response Program. “It does facilitate and it does allow some level of competition because they have another built up border other than the one to Pakistan; it gives them options.”

The track is more than 46 miles (75 kilometers) long and stretches from the bridge connecting Uzbekistan to Afghanistan through Hairaten to Mazar-e Sharif. It cost more than $170 million to build the track, which was largely funded by the Asian Development Bank.

“These kinds of projects bring regional development to Afghanistan,” said Johan Vosloo, project security manager. “More trade and more activity will be brought across the border. With future developments, maybe an expansion of development to the east and west will happen.”

The track will also be used to transport construction material to several major projects in and around Mazar-e Sharif, including the Mazar-e Sharif International Airport.

There are plans to continue the rail system to Herat and to eastern Afghanistan. The track and stations employ hundreds of Afghans to operate it and keep it secure.

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