The Iranian Transportation Minister announced that an important rail passage between his country and neighboring Afghanistan will be ready in the next 100 days as construction of a key cross-border line is nearing completion.
A Deputy to Iran’s Transportation Minister Abbas Khatibi said on Saturday that Iran would link up Afghanistan to its railway once construction for the line connecting the city of Khaf in Eastern Iran to the Afghan city of Herat is finished.
Khatibi said a major part of 191-kilometer railway would be complete in March or at last in April. 2019. allowing the two neighboring countries to kick off rail transportation.
Iran has almost finished its part of the Khaf-Herat railway. which runs 139 kilometers in three sections straddling the border between the two countries. Reports in the Afghan media have suggested that the country is intent on completing the fourth and final section of the project through partnership with an Italian contractor.
Once finished. the railway would hugely boost trade between Iran and Afghanistan. a country which has no active railway system. while it would help the Afghans to use various transportation corridors via Iran to expand business with other countries.
Lack of security in Afghanistan has been a major hurdle for completion of the railway. A mine explosion earlier this year on the Afghan side of the project killed one Iranian engineer and injured his colleague.
Iran has implemented massive plans for expansion of its domestic railway network while it has pursued plans for linking up to neighboring countries to facilitate trade.
Afghanistan is expected to hugely benefit from development of the Iranian rail network. especially through a key link connecting the port city of Chabahar on the Sea of Oman to Zahedan. near the Afghan border.
The massive project. which is jointly built by Iran and India. is meant to facilitate trade from the Indian Ocean via Iran to Afghanistan and further north to the Central Asian countries.
Early in October. Head of Southern Khorassan’s office of Ministry of Industry. Mining and Trade Davoud Shahraki announced that Iranian traders and companies had exported some $151 million worth of non-oil goods to Afghanistan through the Eastern province of Southern Khorassan in the first 6 months of the current local calendar year (March 21-September 22). adding that Afghans had exported $26 million worth of commodities to Iran in the same period.
Late in September. during the 19th edition of the International Construction Industry Exhibition in Tehran. Iranian and Afghan delegations signed 25 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on reconstructing the war-torn country.