The government of Turkmenistan has agreed to extend a new railway project connecting Aqina and Andkhoy in northern Faryab province on through neighboring Balkh and Kunduz provinces at a cost of 200 million USD, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday.
President Ghani’s announcement came just after his meeting with Turkmen President Qurban Bardi Mohammadov, which he said was very constructive.
Turkmenistan has already put preparatory steps for the project in motion, surveying land and smoothing out construction logistics, and 90 percent of what needs to be done is said to have been completed. The new railway will pass through Aqina port, Andkhoy, Sheberghan, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz and Sher Khan Bandar, but, eventually, it is hoped that it will connect to Tajikistan and China as well. Electrical lines are expected to follow the length of the rail line.
“We focused on the 500 voltage electricity and railway track that will cover Aqina to Andkhoi,” Ghani said on Friday. “In the next steps we made arrangements to assess the railway track so that it reach Mazar and Kunduz and connect to Tajikistan and onward to China.”
During his tour in Turkmenistan, President Ghani visited with Afghan engineering students studying abroad. He told them they would be the leaders of Afghanistan’s future, and promised greater scholarship funding for their studies.
“In the past, our university graduates faced problems in Turkmenistan, in the U.S., and other countries, because the ideology of the administrative and reforms commission wasn’t right; those given scholarship for a year were fired from their jobs and it is unacceptable to us,” he said. “We will reduce the number of employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will seek more scholarships for you, every consulate and embassy will be assessed and scholarships will be increased.”
President Ghani and his delegation returned to Afghanistan on Thursday. He painted the trip as a success, asserting that with the new mega development projects planned between the two countries, Turkmenistan would become one of Afghanistan’s biggest commercial partners.