Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 1 /Trend/
Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, Afghan Minister of Public Works Abdul Qudus Hamidi, and His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), performed the foundation stone ceremony for the Shouroobod Bridge, Asia-Plus reported.
According to AKDN Tajikistan, the bridge will connect the Shouroobod district of Khatlon province in Tajikistan with the Khohon province of Afghanistan. The ceremony was also attended by the German Ambassadors to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
Since 2002, AKDN has constructed four bridges -- at Darvoz, Tem, Ishkashim and Vanj. Today they serve as the primary transport links between Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast and northern Afghanistan. As integral parts of AKDN's multi-sector cross-border strategy, they are key conduits for humanitarian assistance, commerce and socio-cultural exchange opportunities in these remote and isolated areas.
Rahmon said the new bridge will "significantly enhance closer trade and economic cooperation and the intensification of multilateral cooperation between our two countries".
"This foundation is a symbol of the relationship between our two countries," Hamidi said. "With the construction of this bridge, thousands of people across the river will now have the opportunity to connect to health services and education opportunities in Tajikistan, and this is a remarkable achievement."
"What you are doing today is setting a remarkable example of people coming together for a common purpose across frontiers - and that common purpose is to improve the quality of life of every individual in those societies, Aga Khan said. These bridges enable people to come together to share best practice in developing human society. Across frontiers, you can build best practice in education, in healthcare, in economic development, in financial institutions, in rural activity, and it is this capacity to bring the best of society together for the benefit of all the people that I think is the most important lesson that we have today."
The Aga Khan also thanked the government of Germany for its support for the project.
When completed, the Shouroobod Bridge will connect rural, mountainous and isolated communities living along the borders of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
The bridge will be 162 meters in length, measure 3.5 meters in width and have a load capacity of 30 metric tons. Construction is expected to be completed at the end of 2012.
The German government will provide financial support through its development bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), while the Aga Khan Foundation, together with its local partners, will provide technical assistance.
As with the previously constructed bridges, facilities, including cross-border markets, will be built on both sides of the Shouroobod bridge. It is anticipated that the new bridge will contribute to increasing the livelihoods of the isolated and rural areas by stimulating cross-border commercial trade as well as the development of infrastructure on the Afghan side.