DUSHANBE, October 2, Asia-Plus - The main work on excavation of the Shahriston tunnel in northern Tajikistan will start in mid-October, Qodir Saidov, the director of the unit for implementation of the project on rehabilitation of the road Dushanbe-Khujand-Uzbek border, said in his interview with Asia-Plus.

At present the work on broadening the being rehabilitated road with the use of hand-placed explosives is under way, according to him.  

Saidov said all necessary equipment had already been delivered and additional equipment will be delivered in the course of the construction work.  “At present 441 building machines and more than 600 Chinese and Tajik road builders are working on rehabilitation of the highway from Dushanbe to the Uzbek border,” he said, noting that the road will be finished by August 2008 and the Shahriston tunnel by August 2009.  “We have to date spent more than 12 million somonis for the preparatory work,” Saidov added.  

China’s companies had won tenders to build the Shahriston (Sughd province) and Shar-Shar tunnels (Khatlon province) tunnels in Tajikistan, and Beijing this year offered Tajikistan grants and loans to fund these projects. 

Construction of a 5-kilometer Shahriston tunnel is part of plans to improve road communications between Dushanbe, Khujand and the Uzbek border city of Chanak.  China’s construction company, China Road, will excavate the Shahriston tunnel.  

A total cost of the project for rehabilitation of the la cost of the road Dushanbe-Khujand-Uzbek border is US$295.9 million Somonis, including a loan of US$281.2 million.  The estimated budget for the construction of the Shahriston tunnel is some US$70 million.  The tunnel is supposed to be finished in three years.