Central Asia, Global View

The CAREC Programme: Corridor 5

Raluca Şancariuc

Corridor 5 connects East Asia with the Middle East and South Asia. It starts from THE Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in People’s Republic of China and continues in the Kyrgyz Republic passing through Yierkeshitan (China) – Irkeshtam (Kyrgyzstan) border crossing point, from where it advances towards the Republic of Tajikistan through Karamyk (Kyrgyzstan) – Karamyk (Tajikistan) border crossing point. From here, Corridor 5 enters the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through Panji Poyon (Tajikistan) – Shirkhan Bandar (Afghanistan) border crossing point and, after Pakistan became a member of CAREC in 2010, was extended in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan via Torkham (Afghanistan) – Peshawar (Pakistan) point, ending at Karachi port in Pakistan

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Source: Asian Development Bank (2014). Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring. A Forward-Looking Retrospective. pp. 69

Corridor 5 includes 3,700 km of roads, 2,000 km of railway and a logistic centre.

The shortest route linking Central Asia to a seaport is along this corridor and involves transiting Pakistan from Torkham (Afghanistan) – Peshawar (Pakistan) border crossing point to Karachi (Pakistan, seaport at the Arab Sea). Yet cargo transport along this corridor is difficult as the route faces numerous challenges, from climate and terrain conditions (for instance the part crossing Tajikistan unfolds along mountainous terrain), to security issues (cargo transport and insurance in Afghanistan and Pakistan involves higher costs).

Corridor 5 is mainly used for regional road transport, railway infrastructure being underdeveloped: in China railway transport is possible only between Urumqi and Kashi, while the railway network in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is not well connected, and in Afghanistan there is practically no railway.

In Pakistan, the corridor is complementary to the Economic Corridor China-Pakistan that unfolds from Gwadar seaport (Pakistan, seaport at the Arab Sea) to Khunjerab Pass (at the border between Pakistan and China), the latter involving USD 46 billion investment with Chinese funding. There is a significant potential for increasing trade between China and Pakistan along Corridor 5, but traffic volume can increase only if infrastructure and security improve, while cross border trade agreements are completed and important border crossing points (such as Karamyk) become more accessible for shipments from all CAREC member countries.

Most ongoing projects are focused on the rehabilitation of road infrastructure in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The first tranche (USD 195 million) of CAREC Corridor Development Investment Programme was approved in 2017, with the goal of extending and rehabilitating several roads in Pakistan (Petaro – Sehwan, Ratodero – Shikarpur, Dara Adamkhel – Peshawar). Moreover, the rehabilitation of M-4 highway’s Gojra – Shorkot – Khanewal section in Pakistan (USD 273 millions) was approved in 2016, after the rehabilitation of multiple roads along the main trade corridor in Pakistan was started in 2014: Sarai Saleh – Havelian section in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provence and the express road Hasanabdal – Havellian (288 milioane USD). In Afghanistan, the reconstruction of Beharak – Eshkashim road (connecting the Afghan city of Kunduz with the Tadjik border), along with Dar-i-Suf – Yakawlag, Sapary – Jalalabad, Sharan – Angoor Ada, and Chan-e-Anjir – Gereshk roads is currently ongoing (USD 631 millions).

Projects implemented along this corridor are also focused on developing road infrastructure in Tajikistan, by improving the road that connects Dushanbe capital city with Kurgonteppa – two of the biggest and most important cities in the country (USD 98 million) –, and also by improving the routes Sayron – Karamyk and Vose – Khovaling (USD 90 million). The road linking Dushanbe with the Kyrgyz border was previously rehabilitated (USD 89 million).

In Kyrgyzstan, parts of Osh – Gulcha – Sopu Korgon national highway were already modernized (USD 43 million), along with the infrastructure of border crossing points located at the border with Tajikistan and China, while cross border agreements between these three countries were also signed (USD 40 million).

In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region an urban infrastructure development project was completed in 2015, leading to the improvement of road infrastructure, traffic management and environment sanitation in Altay, Changji, Hami, Kuytun and Turpan cities (USD 182 million). Moreover, Korla – Kuqa highway section was modernized along with other local roads between 2007 and 2014 (USD 594 million).

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