“Uzbekistan Railways” (“Uzbekiston temir yullari”) announced on the signing of a new agreement on the continuation of the operation of the Hairatan-Mazar-i-Sharif railway. The document was signed between the administration of the railways of Afghanistan (the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021; the Taliban movement was recognized as terrorist in the Russian Federation and banned) and Sogdiana Trans, a subsidiary of Uzbekistan Temir Yullari. The contract is designed for two years, the operation will be carried out by Sogdiana Trans.
The construction of the Hairatan-Mazar-i-Sharif railway began in 2010, Mazar-i-Sharif and Hairatan are cities in Afghanistan. The project was financed by a grant from the Asian Development Bank and the government of Afghanistan’s own funds, its cost amounted to $170 million, reported Qazaq Grain.
In 2011, Sogdiana Trans was established to operate and maintain the railway. In April 2022, the Afghan side announced that from May 10, the management of the railway will be completely transferred to it, for which a corresponding agreement was signed.
As of the beginning of 2022, Afghanistan paid $18 million annually to Uzbekistan for servicing the railway from Termez through the Hairatan border checkpoint to Mazar-i-Sharif, and the income from importing goods on it ranged from $2.5 million to $4 million per month. The Taliban considered this to be inconsistent with national interests, reports Sputnik Uzbekistan.
Afghan TV channel TOLOnews reported on December 5, 2022 that the Kazakhstani company Mansour Fatih became the new contractor of the railway line, the services of which were much cheaper than those of Sogdiana Trans – $4.1 million instead of $15 million, respectively. “Uzbekiston temir yullari” this information refuted.