Tbilisi, Georgia, Nov.26
By Nana Kirtzkhalia - Trend:
Georgia, located at the crossroads of Central Asia and the Middle East, is the connecting link between Western Europe, Central Asia, China and India, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on Nov.26.
He made the remarks at Georgian-Latvian business forum with participation of Latvian President Andris Berzins.
"This favorable geographical position turns our country into a natural transport and business hub. We are actively involved in a number of important regional and international projects and at the same time, we work on the modernization of the domestic transport infrastructure," said the prime minister.
With this regard, he emphasized the importance of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in the development of Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.
"This railway will directly link Georgia with Turkey. And a direct link with Europe will be provided with the Marmara tunnel," Garibashvili said.
He said that a test train is expected to run on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway by late 2014 and it is planned to complete the implementation of the project in 2015.
Garibashvili added that once the railway is commissioned, the rail shipping time will be reduced by half.
"We plan to construct a deep-sea port after two years in order to ensure the subsequent development of Georgia's transport potential," the prime minister said. "It will be multi-functional and will be able to receive large cargo ships."
He said 12 consortiums have already showed interest in participation in this project, adding that the port's capacity will be equal to 100 million metric tons per year, which will allow to significantly increase the transit cargo turnover through Georgia.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being constructed on the basis of the Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.
The State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) finances the project in accordance with the Azerbaijani president's decree 'On the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project activities' dated February 21, 2007.
A new 105-kilometer branch of the railroad is being constructed as part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. In addition, the railway's Akhalkalaki-Marabda-Tbilisi section is under reconstruction in Georgia that will increase its capacity to 15 million metric tons of cargo per year. A post is under construction in Akhalkalaki for the transition of trains from the existing tracks in Georgia to the European ones.
The peak capacity of the corridor will be 17 million metric tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be equal to one million passengers and 6.5 million metric tons of cargo.
Edited by CN