In a visit to the Afghan western province of Herat on Monday, Khatiti said that 93 percent of the work on the Iranian portion of the railway route has been completed, tolonews.com reported.
Meanwhile, Afghan railway officials in Herat said that the Afghan government will start work on the fourth phase of the Khaf-Herat railway project within the next ten days. The fourth phase of the project is to lay the tracks from Ghoryan district of Herat towards the Herat Airport.
Referring to the economic significance of the project, officials of Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries have said that the implementation of the project will help to further expand exports and imports relations between Iran and Afghanistan.
“We are very optimistic we will complete this project within the next one or two months and ensure that the project becomes operational 100 percent during this period,” Khatiti told reporters in Herat on Monday.
“In the fourth phase, 40 percent of the work will be focused on the geotechnical portion and surveying of the project,” said Sayed Aqa Azizi, the head of the Herat Railway Directorate. Work is ongoing by a Kazakh company hired for the project, said Azizi.
Overview of Khaf-Herat railway
The Khaf-Herat railway will be 130km long, of which 70km is inside Iranian territory, and 60km is inside Afghan territory. With the completion of this project, for the first time, Afghanistan can take advantage of a railway which provides access to Turkey and Europe, via Iran’s ports in the Persian Gulf.
The project was started in April 2007 with Iran’s aid at a cost of $75 million and was due to be finished in 2009, but was delayed.
Completion of the project will increase transit opportunities in Afghanistan and is intended to solve many investors’ and merchants’ problems.
“The Khaf railway project will help connect Herat to the entire world and develop our export ability,” said Abdul Latif Qanawizyan, the deputy head of Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Iranian officials have said that the project will also help Afghanistan to get easy access to Iranian ports at Chabahar and Bandar Abbas.
The development takes place as security threats still remain high against the project in Ghoryan district.
“When there is development and work in an area, and infrastructure is built there, of course security threats also increase, but we are fully prepared to deal with these threats,” said Najibullah Safai, the commander of the Khaf-Herat Security Department.
The Herat-Khaf railway is the largest joint infrastructural project between Iran and Afghanistan.
Iran and Afghan officials have said that they do not see any problem in the way of completing the project.