US Treasury Awards ADB for Landmark Afghan Railway Project

News Release | 23 July 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has received a US Department of Treasury award for a pioneering rail project in Afghanistan that is providing a cross-border trade link crucial to the country’s post-conflict economy.

“ADB is honored to receive the award for this rail project that represents a major step forward in Afghanistan’s drive to expand trade, improve lives, and cut poverty after years of war,” said Juan Miranda, ADB Managing Director General. “The railway was completed in record time and to the highest standards under a fixed price and a fixed delivery timeline with the contractor subject to a premium and penalties against the fixed budget, timeline and quality standards.”

Mr. Miranda accepted the award on ADB’s behalf at the Third Annual Development Impact Honors Ceremony hosted by the US Treasury Department in Washington, DC. The ceremony, attended by senior US Administration officials, members of the US Congress, multilateral development bank (MDB) representatives, and other officials from across the development community, recognizes excellence in projects carried out by MDBs.

The 75-km railway, funded with a $165 million ADB grant, links the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to Hairatan on the northern border with Uzbekistan. Hairatan is the gateway for about half of Afghanistan’s imports and most of its humanitarian goods, and before the line was built, cargo moving across the border had to be offloaded from Uzbek trains and reloaded onto Afghan trucks. The line is helping to slash travel time, lower freight costs, and expand cross-border freight consignments allowing for some 4 million tons of goods to be transported in the first year of operation.

The railway, which is the first commercial rail network in the country’s history, connects to Uzbekistan’s extensive rail network and gives landlocked Afghanistan faster and cheaper access to regional markets in Europe and Asia. This, along with other planned rail lines in Afghanistan, will allow it to take advantage of its vast mineral resources for the first time, through future expansion based on successful implementation of this initial rail segment. ADB’s ongoing work in Afghanistan aims to build on these achievements and contribute to increased economic activity and trade.

About 7 million people are expected to benefit from the project, which also supports the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program’s drive to boost transport, trade, and energy links throughout the region and beyond. Afghanistan is a member of the 10-country partnership.

Six awards were handed out at the ceremony, which provides a showcase for the global work of MDBs in areas such as developing critical infrastructure, improving food security, promoting the private sector, fostering inclusive growth, stabilizing fragile state economies, and extending access to finance to vulnerable populations. ADB previously won awards in 2013 for a green power project in Bhutan and in 2012 for private sector support to Afghanistan’s fledgling mobile phone sector.