Shar-Shar auto tunnel links Tajikistan to China

The 2.3km Shar-Shar auto tunnel linking Tajikistan and China opened to traffic on Aug. 30.

Siyavush Mekhtan

2009-09-03

DUSHANBE — The 2.3km Shar-Shar tunnel linking Tajikistan and China opened to traffic on August 30. The tunnel was financed by both countries and constructed by Tajik and Chinese specialists. Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said at the opening ceremony that the tunnel was extremely important for traffic between the country’s regions and in restoring the Great Silk Road.

The Chinese government provided Tajikistan with a US$40 million grant for the project that began in October 2006. China’s railroad construction corporation CREC was the general contractor for its construction.

The Shar-Shar tunnel runs under the mountain ridge with the same name at the 68km mark on the Dushanbe-Kulma highway, and shortens the distance between the two cities by 40 minutes.

The new tunnel will dramatically improve safety on the highway. The mountain ridge road was dangerous, particularly during the winter, and more than 1,000 people lost their lives along the road in the last 80 years. In addition, annual road maintenance in this area proved to be costly.

President Rakhmon said the country’s economic growth could only be sustained by significantly upgrading Tajikistan’s transportation infrastructure in general and said that such projects already underway will cost $650 million.

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