By TBY | Azerbaijan | Jun 25, 2014
There are currently a little under 19,000 kilometers of paved roads in Azerbaijan stretching the length of the country. In 2013, 125 million tons of cargo was transported on them, […]
There are currently a little under 19,000 kilometers of paved roads in Azerbaijan stretching the length of the country. In 2013, 125 million tons of cargo was transported on them, which was a 5% increase on the 118 million tons moved in 2012, according to Azstat. Passengers transported also saw a rise between 2012 and 2013 from 1.41 billion to 1.5 billion according to the Ministry of Transport. The average distance of goods moved was 112.7 kilometers, while passengers moved an average of 14.1 kilometers. In 2012, the total turnover for the sector was AZN831 million, of which AZN412 million came from goods transported and AZN419 million from passengers. Road transport employed 17,789 people in 2012 at a nominal monthly wage of AZN482.
The government of Azerbaijan knows it needs to improve the network access as well as the quality of its road system; therefore, it is looking toward public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the toll road model used around the world. Of the 19,000 kilometers of roads it has, 17,529 kilometers are managed by the state company Azeryolservis. In 2014, a provisional law was passed on the usage of toll roads, which should pave the way for them being more widely employed across the country, the first of these is likely to be a pilot project on Baku’s third ring road and a project to extend the number of lanes is currently under discussion on whether to make it a toll road. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) suggested a number of recommendations to the government of Azerbaijan, such as bus-only lanes and toll roads in an effort to tackle the problem of traffic congestion, which Azerbaijan’s main cities suffer from.
Over the past decade Azerbaijan has been busy improving and consolidating its road network. It has constructed, reconstructed, or repaired 8,332 kilometers of roads and built 220 bridges and overpasses. In Baku alone, there are 1,525 kilometers of roads. The country has commissioned 61 overpasses and tunnels in the city as well as 68 pedestrian crossings and underpasses. These improvements have led to a reduction in the length of roads as traffic flows begin to use the new overpasses and ring roads.
Azeryolservis’ main target for 2014 is the completion of the Ziya Bunyadov Avenue, Baku’s largest avenue. It hopes to finish the reconstruction of the road by the end of summer 2014. Azeryolservis is also constructing a new road leading from the Olympic Stadium complex to the Shafa and Baladjari stadiums, as well as the expansion of a bridge in the north of Baku. Azerbaijan is also looking a little further into the future in regard to events and transport infrastructure. “An action plan on road transport infrastructure has been approved in order to ensure the smooth and safe operation of public transport and address other organizational matters ahead of the inaugural European Games due to be held in Baku in 2015,” Ziya Mammadov, Minister of Transport, explained to TBY in an interview. The Ministry hopes to introduce “intelligent transport management systems” to help with the preparation for the Games and beyond. This plan includes reconstruction as well as the construction of a number of roads, and the redevelopment of some of the underground stations on the metro line. The city also plans to install Wi-Fi at bus stops to inform passengers of upcoming buses. During the Games, the city will put on special bus shuttle services from Heydar Aliyev Airport to the Olympic Village and other activity areas of the games. Bus timetables will also be extended throughout the games and run until 2.00 am everyday.
ON THE RAILS
One the major projects of the railroad sector over the past few years has been the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project. The railway will be of strategic importance to Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, and strengthen the trade relationship of the three countries. The project had experienced a few problems in resuming land along the route, which, according to the Georgian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, have been solved. A test train is expected to make a maiden trip toward the end of 2014, and the line should enter into service in 2015. The total length of the project is 826 kilometers and it is expected to transport $10 billion worth of goods per year. To help its neighbor complete its part of the project, the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) loaned Georgia $775 million for its section of the railway.
While the government is fully underway with the redevelopment and construction of transport infrastructure on the ground, it is also aiming to boost the country’s potential as an aviation hub in the region. A number of projects have been underway at Heydar Aliyev International Airport. On October 8, 2013, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, officially opened a new terminal. Buro Happold and architect Woods Bagot were involved in the design and implementation during the construction of the 60,000-sqm terminal. It consists of 13 passenger bridges and brings the capacity of the airport up to 6 million passengers per year. The state-of-the-art building “will make the Heydar Aliyev International Airport one of the most sophisticated in the world,” according to the Azerbaijani Minister of Transport. In addition to the terminal, a new building to house air traffic control was also constructed to bring its establishment up to international standards. The Ministry of Transport also embarked on the redevelopment of Yevlakh Airport. This included a major overhaul of the current facilities, as well as the building of a new car park and the landscaping of the area around the airport. Azerbaijan Airlines has also set out to improve its fleet of aircraft with the purchase of four Embraer 190s and two Embraer 170s.