BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan can no longer afford even preferential loans to repair highways, said Azimkan Jusubaliev, Deputy Minister of Transport and Roads at a Parliament meeting this week. The MPs asked him why and when toll motor roads will be introduced in the country.
The main highways including Bishkek—Osh, Bishkek—Naryn—Torugart, Osh—Sarytash—Irkeshtam, and Osh—Batken—Isfana and Kara-Balta—Chaldovar were recovered at donors’ expense (more than $2.5 billion). The lion's share of financing was made due to foreign investments under the guarantees of the Kyrgyz Government, Jusubaliev said. The Ministry proposes to make these highways toll roads.
To maintain the roads, the state annually allocates about 3.5 billion soms, or 35% of the regulatory need. To ease the burden on the national budget, it is necessary to introduce toll roads if there are alternative routes, he added.
The Transport Ministry proposed to set a tariff of 0.0056 som per km for passenger cars and from 2 soms to 14 som per km for trucks, depending on the allowed maximum weight. The Ministry is currently drafting amendments to the legislation and by-laws. In the near future, draft documents will be submitted for public discussion.
The Government’s desire to increase revenues to the state budget is understandable, especially given the difficult economic situation and the upcoming payment of the public debt which is currently $4.39 billion, or 56.4% of the projected GDP for 2018.
However, there are other ways to replenish the budget, for example, by increasing tax collection. According to experts, only one out of 10 drivers pays taxes buying a patent. On the opposite, this system is very strict in Russia, where each trucking company has to register as an individual entrepreneur and pay taxes.
The alternative 433-kilometer North-South road was launched in the Naryn oblast in 2014. The first part of the 154-kilometer highway was completed for a $400 million credit from the Export-Import Bank of China. The China Road and Bridge Corporation is currently carrying out construction works within the second phase of the project in the Jumgal district.
There will be 26 kilometers of toll roads in 2018 in Kyrgyzstan and the Kuvak—Kochkor, an alternative route for the North-South highway, can be the first toll road in the country.
Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country where the internal railway network is only 424 kilometers, and 96% of traffic is carried out by road. The total length of Kyrgyzstan's roads is 34 thousand kilometers.
The introduction of toll highways of national significance is among the priority tasks in Kazakhstan.
According to the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan, about 500 kilometers of toll roads are planned to be introduced this year, and 6.5 thousand kilometers by 2020. By 2023, the share of toll roads of national significance can grow up to 72%.
According to the Ministry of Investment and Development, the toll road collection will increase to 45 billion tenge by 2023, which will fully ensure the maintenance of the entire 23.5 thousand kilometers national roads network without budget funds.
Motor roads are the main means of communication in Kazakhstan, and the state allocates huge funds for their construction and maintenance. This year, reconstruction of 4.2 thousand kilometers of national roads continues.
The length of roads in Kazakhstan is 128 thousand kilometers.
The first toll roads will appear in Uzbekistan, too. The new project is mentioned in the presidential decree on additional measures to accelerate the implementation of investment and infrastructure projects in 2018-2019. It is planned to attract $500 million of foreign direct investment to implement the project.
Toll highways will be built in parallel to the existing non toll roads. The Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara highway will be among the first toll roads in the country. This popular tourist route links the ancient cities of Uzbekistan, and the alternative motor route should provide additional comfort for tourists.
In addition to the quality road surface, the possibility of moving at a higher speed will be the advantage of the toll roads, and it will reduce travel time between Tashkent and Samarkand to two hours. The investment agreement for the highway construction based on the public-private partnership was signed with a Turkish consortium, the local media reported. The State Highways Committee of Uzbekistan will be the national partner of the project. Construction works are scheduled for 2019-2020.
There is no necessary legal framework for the commissioning the toll roads, the State Highways Committee said. To fill this gap, the Committee is currently drafting a relevant document to submit it to the Parliament.
The motor road network length is 184 thousand kilometers in Uzbekistan.
The Dushanbe-Chanak toll motor road has been operating for more than eight years in Tajikistan. It connects the central part of the country with its north region and leads to Uzbekistan. This road was reconstructed for a $296.9 million Chinese loan. The official opening of the first 50 km section was in 2010, and then the road was transferred in concession to IRS company for ten years. To repay the loan, it was decided to make the road toll.
Three tunnels with a total length of 11 kilometers have been built on the 355 kilometer highway. Thousands of people currently use the toll highway every day and there is no alternative road, Sputnik.uz news agency reported. The fare on all motorways is charged depending on the type of car, its weight and the distance of the trip.
In the future, the Transport Minister of Tajikistan hopes to implement such projects if there are investors. There have been no such proposals so far and accordingly no plans for toll roads in the near future.
Construction of the high-speed multimodal Turkmenbashi-Garabogaz (Kazakhstan border) highway will be a continuation of the high-speed Ashgabat-Turkmenbashi multimodal highway, said President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov at a press conference in Ashgabat. The new highway will increase the traffic flow and trade between the two neighboring countries, he added.
According to Kazakhstan’s media, construction of a 164 km highway from Kazakhstan’s Kenderli to Turkmenistan’s border may begin soon. In many ways, the border areas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are similar as they both have oil and gas and chemical industries and are transport and logistics hubs.
The construction of Ashgabat-Turkmenabat and Ashgabat-Turkmenbashi highways continues in Turkmenistan, and they will be toll roads. Nine road junctions will be built along the highway route. It would be possible to drive there at a 130 km speed.
According to the Ministry of Motor Transport of Turkmenistan, the Ashgabat-Turkmenbashi autobahn will be commissioned in September 2020. Initially, only heavy vehicles engaged in commercial transportation will have to pay.
Charging for the use of roads will remove the financial burden from the State and will make citizens more responsible for the condition of roads, the Government believes.