TBY talks to Ziya Mammadov, Minister of Transport, on sector investments and major projects.
TBY As of 2010, some $1.5 billion had been invested into the transport sector. What levels of investment will we see in 2011, and where will it be focused?
ZIYA MAMMADOV We will continue to improve the road-transport infrastructure in Baku and other regions of the country in 2011. The roads in the capital will be reconstructed in compliance with international standards, and new bridges and overpasses will be built to meet the increased need for modern public transport. Additionally, we are carrying out general maintenance, and the repairing, reinstatement, and reconstruction of bridges, highways, and roads, as well as executing highway projects highlighted in the State Program for the Regional Economic Development of Azerbaijan in 2009-2013 and the Plan for Additional Measures to Improve the Transport System in Baku in 2008-2013. The quantity of work carried out in 2010 including maintenance totaled AZN1.5 billion. We intend to invest AZN722 million from the 2011 state budget to develop the road network in Azerbaijan, and AZN134.5 million was spent over 1Q 2011. We also intend to invest AZN170 million from the Azerbaijan Highway Budget Fund in 2011 into the maintenance of other roads—AZN60 million of that has been spent within 1Q 2011. A further AZN4.5 million has been spent on maintaining Baku’s roads in 2011 from a country total of AZN24 million. Already, the first quarter of 2011 has seen 175.5 kilometers of roads constructed and repaired and six bridges constructed. Meanwhile, appropriate proposals to further improve the transport infrastructure of Baku and suburban settlements have been prepared and submitted to the relevant authorities.
How is Azerbaijan working with Georgia to realize the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project?
In May 2011 I met with the Georgian Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure and his team. We discussed developing the relationship between Azerbaijan and Georgia, the potential transportation of transit goods, and the progression of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. We made a series of formal agreements relating to funding, design, construction, rehabilitation and reconstruction, and principles and conditions of maintenance of the railway section to Marabda, on the Turkish border, within the framework of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project. Artificial structures are under construction in the Akhalkalaki-Kartsakhi section of the project and the construction of station buildings continues. We are also designing a 4.2-kilometer tunnel that will be constructed on the Turkey-Georgia border. Azerbaijan Agent-Bank will cover the finance for the design, construction, and rehabilitation-reconstruction works and the construction of relevant infrastructure, with a credit agreement covering $775 million. The line of credit contains two phases. For Phase A, which includes work from 2007 until now, the annual percentage is 1%, and covers $200 million over 25 years. For Phase B, the annual percentage is 5%, and covers $575 million over 25 years. The reasons for the financing of Phase B stem from an increase in price of goods and materials within recent years, full reconstruction of the existing Marabda-Kartsakhi railway, works carried out in severe climatic conditions, and so on. I would like to note that Azerbaijan and Georgia came to a consensus and decided to open a joint institution to increase the rationality of transportation and to ensure quick and qualitative work.
Is the Ministry providing support to Azerbaijan State Railways to upgrade its infrastructure and rolling stock to prepare for the opening of the new line?
We are preparing to buy 50 new locomotives, which operate on alternating current. Ten contractors participated in the tender process, which stipulated the design, supply, and installation of a system with a power of 27.5 kVt, including stations, the contact network, and signal equipment along the Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA). The shortlist has been narrowed to four companies and an evaluation report has been submitted to the World Bank for approval. We have set aside AZN34 million of capital investment for the implementation of Support for Railway Trade and Transport and Reconstruction of Railway Projects, which is part of the State Program.
The expansion of Baku Port is scheduled for completion in 2013, and it will be able to receive 12 million tons of cargo by 2015. What is the status of the project?
The ceremony for laying down the foundations of the “New Baku International Sea Trade Port Complex” was held on November 3, 2010. The Chief Plan and Working Project construction was finalized by Dutch company Royal Haskoning BV, under the Ministry of Transport. The two construction companies that will be carrying out the work for bottom deepening and the New Port Complex are Van Oord BV from the Netherlands and a local company, Azerkorpu OJC. Van Oord BV has been performing bottom-deepening works over the first months of 2011.
What kind of measures is Azerbaijan taking to limit transport pollution?
A lot of measures have been taken to limit the ecological impact of our transport infrastructure. To improve the road-transport complex, we have planted more than 50,000 trees. The Transport Ministry has also worked to comply with Euro 2 standards, which have been applied to Azerbaijan since July 1, 2010.
Our specialists have worked very hard to prepare preventative measures against harmful gas emitted into the atmosphere by transport facilities. We are also working on proposals to apply Euro 3 standards and improve ecological standards across
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