An ambitious plan to build an Iraq-Turkey railway and road link has been unveiled by the authorities in Baghdad.
The project for this 1,200km-long road-rail corridor, valued at USD 17 billion by the Iraqi government, is at an early stage.
According to the Baghdad authorities, the road and railway will have to be built in cooperation with other countries in the region, such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Syria, Oman, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose representatives were invited over the weekend to the presentation of this “Development Road” in the Iraqi capital.
“We see this sustainable project as a pillar of an economy that will no longer rely on oil. It is a link that will serve Iraq’s neighbours and the region and contribute to economic integration where the Persian Gulf plays a major role in global shipping,” said Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani at the opening of the meeting.
Project could be completed within three to five years
Each country that wants to do so will be able to carry out part of the project for Iraq-Turkey railway, explained members of the Iraqi parliament’s transport committee, who estimate that the project could be completed within three to five years.
“The Development Road will boost interdependence between countries in the region,” said Turkey’s ambassador in Baghdad, Ali Riza Guney, without specifying how much his country, Iraq’s main economic partner, intends to contribute financially. Ravaged by decades of war and corruption, Iraq, though rich in oil and gas resources, has a huge infrastructure problem.
Mohammad Shia al-Sudani also said that rehabilitating the road network is one of his priorities, along with upgrading the equally flawed electricity grid. The road and rail corridor should enable Iraq to capitalise on its privileged geographical position and turn it into a major transport hub for goods and people between the Persian Gulf and Turkey and on to Europe.