ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmenistan has begun construction on a multi-billion-dollar, cross-country highway project that the gas-rich and largely isolated Central Asian nation hopes will help generate more regional trade, RFE/RL reported.
The State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported on January 24 that the Turkmen President’s decree had ordered to start works in January 2019 and to complete the construction of the highway and all facilities in three phases until December 2023.
The four-lane highway is projected to link Turkmenistan’s capital of Ashgabat to the city of Turkmenabat near the border with Uzbekistan.
The government newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported on January 25 that the artery, expected to cost $2.3 billion when completed, will stretch across some 600 kilometers of desert.
It is hoped the new highway will boost regional trade by linking with another planned artery linking the capital to the port of Turkmenbashi, on the Caspian Sea coast.
The son of Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, a deputy regional governor, was on hand for a ceremony to mark the launch of construction on January 24.
Serdar Berdymukhammedov called the highway an example of Turkmenistan’s “great support to the private sector, which is developing rapidly in our country.”
The road will be constructed by a little-known private company called Turkmen Awtoban, with a loan provided by the national bank.
Turkmen state television said the road construction aims to build up cargo transit along key trade corridors leading to Europe and the Middle East.