Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 12
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
Georgia is interested in developing its transport and transit potential, the transport policy department of the Georgian Ministry of Economy said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
"Therefore, it pins great hopes for the implementation of the Trans-Caspian transport route," the department said. "Georgia is a link of the Silk Road and the shortest route between Asia and Europe. In this context, the Trans-Caspian transport route is one of the most promising directions of transportation between Asia and Europe."
The ministry said that the containers were transported by railway from Western China to Georgia for the first time in the beginning of the year as part of a joint project of WELL (Worldwide Energy Logistics) and Kedentranservice companies.
"The transportation took only nine days, which is five times faster compared to sea freight," the department said.
A number of significant infrastructure projects are being implemented in Georgia for the development of transit potential.
In particular, the implementation of a project of a new railway line Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is a final stage.
"This line will connect the railways of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey," the ministry said. "This will allow transporting cargo by railway from China to Europe and vice versa."
Aside from that, work started in Georgia in 2006 to construct the 'East-West' highway, which is scheduled for completion in 2020.
The project will enhance the central highway's capacity, improve traffic safety and reduce the time spent on transportation through Georgia's territory.
Georgian government is also making all the efforts to develop its port infrastructure. In particular, it is planned to construct a new deep-sea port in Anaklia on the Black Sea coast.
In addition, a railway modernization project, which started in 2011, is underway in Georgia. The project's completion is scheduled for 2019. The project's main objective is to modernize the central (transit) line from Tbilisi to the ports of Poti and Batumi, which means higher throughput, increased speed of trains, etc.
Aside from that, customs formalities and procedures related to crossing of state border have been significantly simplified in Georgia after reforms and institutional transformations.
Security issues are given the highest priority.
The abovementioned matters were brought into line with international standards, in particular with issues related to technical regulations and relevant rules.
The actions taken have already yielded results. Growth in container traffic has been recorded at the ports of Georgia. In 2014, the ports handled 446,972 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), or 11 percent more than in 2013 (403,447 TEU were handled in 2013).
"On the basis of the above mentioned, we hope that in the coming years, the transit of goods [via Georgia] will increase, and participation in the Trans-Caspian transport route will involve new cargo flows," the department said.
The first meeting of the working group of Coordination Committee of Trans-Caspian international transport route was held in January 2015 in Baku. During that meeting, the sides reached an agreement on adopting measures on organizing container service on the China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route by using the new Zhezkazgan-Beineu railway line, the facilities of Aktau port, as well as the Akhalkalaki-Kars railway line that is under construction.
The first container train was launched on the China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan route. A competitive tariff was set on transportation via this route.
In September 2015, it is planned to launch the train on this route to Turkey (Istanbul).
As part of the implementation of "100 concrete steps" program, Kazakhstan Railways JSC proposed last week to create a joint venture that will develop container transportation via the Trans-Caspian international transport route.
Edited by CN
Elena Kosolapova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova