The railway administration department said Sunday that the establishment of a railway line between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan will be one of the most important topics of discussion during President Ashraf Ghani’s next visit to Uzbekistan.
The department’s deputy head Abdul Bari Seddiqi said Uzbekistan is interested in helping Afghanistan to build the railway line in order for them to have a direct route to Iran.
He said the most direct route would be through Afghanistan.
The plan is to run the line from Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh province, through four provinces, to Herat.
A main line and subsidiary lines would be built, said Seddiqi.
He said: “The line would extend from Neyababad in Mazar-e-Sharif to Herat on one side and to Kunduz on the other; Uzbekistan can be connected to the Afghan railway lines via this link,” Seddiqi added.
The railway administration said that by establishing a north-west network, trade between Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China would increase and trade ties between Uzbekistan would also increase.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) meanwhile confirmed trade and transit agreements between high-ranking officials from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan would be signed in the near future.
“The president is expected to travel to Uzbekistan soon, and sixteen memorandums of understanding, including a memorandum (of understanding) to start building a railway network will be signed. Transit problems will be resolved, and trade relations will be developed. This is all good news for us and it will give us hope that we should invest more in Afghanistan,” Sayam Pasarlay, spokesman for the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said.
The north-west railway network is one of six major regional railway projects – and the total line will stretch 1,100 kilometers in the country.
Officials from the railway administration said once this railway network is complete, five countries in the region, plus Afghanistan, will be directly connected.