0812 GMT October 17, 2021
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has approved tapping Iran’s sovereign wealth fund for construction of a key railway southeast of the country, said the roads and urban development minister.
Speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the entry of 213 passenger cars and locomotives into the country’s rail network on Tuesday, Mohammad Eslami added the government had proposed drawing up from the fund to finance the Chabahar-Zahedan railway, a key link connecting Iran’s coastal areas on the Sea of Oman to the border with Afghanistan, Press TV wrote.
“We proposed tapping the National Development Fund to earmark credit to the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project which was approved by the Leader,” said Eslami, insisting that the project was a “national dream” as it could boost trade and economic activity in the relatively-deprived areas southeast of Iran.
The minister said last month that Iran had accelerated construction at its part of the Chabahar-Zahedan railway, a project where Indian companies are also contributing.
He had said that Iran’s value of investment in the project, which is expected to end by 2021, would amount to over $330 million.
India is a major partner in development plans for Chabahar as it seeks easier access to the markets in Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.
Iran also views the project a key element in its plans to complete a north-south corridor of railways which could have a huge impact on accommodation of trade from the India Ocean to Central Asia and Europe.
Iran needs to finish construction for a missing rail line between Rasht and Astara, located north of the country, to fully complete the corridor which is seen by many as the new Silk Road.
Commenting on the construction of a freeway connecting the Iranian capital of Tehran to the northern province of Mazandaran – locally known as Tehran-Shomal Freeway – in the same ceremony, Eslami said the first section of the freeway will be inaugurated in February 2020.
He added the development project of the first section of the freeway will be completed in September, IRNA reported.
Eslami noted that following negotiations between the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development and its partner in the project, Mostazafan Foundation, it was decided to inaugurate this section in February.
The minister stressed that the first section of freeway can, nevertheless, be used sooner than the inauguration date.
“We have held talks with all companies involved in building the first section of the freeway and have told them to start construction of the second section as soon as they completed the first part of the project.”
He expressed hope that the construction of the second section of the freeway will be completed by 2021.