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17.06.08 20:17

Turkmenistan invites St Petersburg to set out on the road

Yesterday, the governor of Ashgabat city, Deriyageldy Orazov, invited St Petersburg companies to join Turkmenistan\'s large-scale projects for development of urban and rural infrastructure. The largest of them is the construction of the Ashgabat ring road worth US $ 300 million. At the same time, Turkmenistan is going to invest some US $ 400 million in development of infrastructure of Turkmenistan regions, and to invest even more in development of its capital this year. However, Turkmenistan traditionally lays down exacting requirements for foreign contractors and often terminates contracts.

Deriyageldy Orazov visited St Petersburg on the personal instructions of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov that he issued immediately after returning from the informal CIS summit held in St Petersburg on June 6. Deriyageldy Orazov met with St Petersburg governor Valentina Matviyenko. Thirteen St Petersburg companies attended the meeting. Judging by the list of participants, the Ashgabat governor was mostly interested in technologies and equipment for construction of roads, energy equipment and water supply facilities. According to Deriyageldy Orazov, the project on construction of a ring road in Ashgabat aims at taking transiting transport away from Ashgabat and provides for construction of some 200 km long 8-lane highway and adjacent roads, as well as connecting them to the city road network. Apart from construction, St Petersburg companies are expected to submit proposals on designing, marking, installing road signs, illuminating and other works. Construction of one kilometer has been so far estimated at US $ 1,5 million, but this figure can be revised, the Ashgabat governor said.

Sergey Blagadarov, director general of Zapadnyy Skorostnoy Diameter \"Nevskyy Meridian\" company, says the cost of the road construction, which is reasonable by St Petersburg standards, is justified by more simple climatic and geological conditions that allow for simplification of technologies. Chief engineer of Orion Plus company, Nikolai Yakovlev, notes that construction of similar road in St Petersburg, without installation of platforms and avoiding swampy soil, would cost something close to the figure mentioned by Deriyageldy Orazov. However, in this case, one has to scrupulously calculate the project\'s economy because, in its current form, it may end up balancing on the edge of profitability.

Last year changes in political life of Turkmenistan initiated by the new president have led to the dramatic economic growth. If until recently foreign companies worked mainly in the oil and gas sector of Turkmenistan, now the state attracts significant investments in the construction sector and infrastructure facilities. The construction of twenty six 12-storey apartment houses and a number of public buildings worth US $ 820 million, a US $ 152 million new market occupying 100 hectares, reconstruction of the airport in Turkmenbashi city totaling US 4 200 million and so on are among latest large-scale projects. Almost all construction projects in Turkmenistan are awarded to Turkish companies and rarely to big European companies. However, the country\'s leadership has recently regularly complained about quality of construction and delays in project implementation, terminating contracts with companies.

Denis LEBEDEV, St Petersburg

RBK daily SPB of 17 June 2008

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