ArmInfo. Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and IT of Armenia Artur Arakelyan excludes the possibility of suspending North-South transport corridor construction project, he stated answering to ArmInfo's correspondent's question on October 26 on the sidelines of the two-day discussions within UN "Euro-Asian Transport Links" program.
According to the Deputy Minister, the Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technologies needs to get familiar with the process of implementation of the project, and very soon he will present his assessment of it. The North-South project is very significant for Armenia and Arakalelyan noted that there are no problems related to the project and the process of its implementation. The problems voiced by mass media are common practice in any construction process, the Deputy Minister noted. "Tranche 1- section from Artashat to Ashtarak has been finished in time, the remaining construction is being held according to the schedule", Arakelyan noted. The Deputy Minister ensured that there are no problems with financing of the program. However, for its more efficient implementation on the current stage discussions are being held to deepen state-private sector cooperation in order to attract private funds into construction works on the Southern part of the project. "The matter concerns Kajaran-Sisian 60km section, where there is an alternative road and we are actively searching for investors who will assist to its implementation", Arakelyan stated recalling that according to the plan two tunnels will be built on the section, due to which the travel time will be cut by 2.5-3hours with 100km/h permissible speed.
On October 20 the Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies Vahan Martirosyan told journalists that the ministry is assessing the efficiency of construction of the North-South highway in the territory of Armenia. The Minister noted that at the current stage the efficiency of both the highway construction and the North- South project in general is being assessed. He did not rule out possible replacement of the developer company and revision of the construction period. "There will be no abuse during my term in the minister's office, believe me," he said. Martirosyan pointed out that there is no final conclusion about the future of the project yet. "I think it is unreasonable to change anything without conducting the relevant surveys. We are assessing the efficiency of the project to understand how to continue the implementation of the project or whether to continue it at all," he said.
To recall, in July 2016, when commenting on the "delay of construction of the Ashtarak-Talin section of the North- South project," the then Prime Minister of Armenia Hovik Abrahamyan said that the Spanish construction company had become a real evil for the North-South road corridor. He also stressed that there were problems also with the Ararat section of the road, whose quality did not meet the standards. "There are certain problems with this company, according to the rumors, the funds were misappropriated, please check into the matter", Abrahamyan instructed. After the session of the Government, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Artur Arakelyan told journalists that Spanish company Corsan Corviam had already been fined for the improper quality of the construction work. Based on the results of the inspection, certain divergences were registered, which were envisaged by the agreement. As a result, the company was fined at 6 mln USD from the total 70 mln USD to be paid for the claims related to the quality of the conducted work within Tranche 1 from Yerevan to Artashat and Ashtarak. "However, there are no reasons to dissolve the agreement with the company", the deputy minister stated.
To note, the North-South 556km highway will be laid via the Armenian towns of Meghri-Kapan-Goris-Yerevan- Ashtarak- Gyumri-Bavra and enter the territory of Georgia on Akhaltsikhe-Batumi section, which will settle some transport problems of Armenia. This will be a four-lane motorway of reinforced concrete extending from the Armenian border and Iran to the Georgian port Batumi. The road corridor will facilitate improving the road connection with the two neighbors of Armenia: Iran and Georgia, providing access to international trade routes and markets. Armenia raised $500mln loan from the Asian Development Bank for the project that is estimated at $1 billion. Eurasian Development Bank is ready to provide $150 million. Armenia raised $60 million from the European investment Bank. Due to the project, the overland communication Europe-Caucasus-Asia will be improved. The project will be completed by 2019. It will allow Armenia to soften the consequences of the blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey and to join the Black Sea ring highway. Corsan Corvian Spanish company has won the tenders for construction of the first sections of the road, Chinese Sinohydro Corporation has won the tender for construction of the Lanjik-Gyumri section in north of Armenia.