Tajik PM Disputes Uzbek Rationale For
Match 24, 2010
-- Tajikistan's prime minister has described as an "excuse" Uzbekistan's claims that technical problems are blocking freight trains bound
for his country.
Uzbekistan began roughly two months ago to blockade the passage of
Tajikistan-bound freight trains through its territory. Some 1,000 freight cars
with construction material, aluminum ore, and fuel are thought to have been
On March 23, Tajikistan's Foreign Ministry summoned the Uzbek ambassador to hand over a
note of protest about the hold-up.
Responding to an RFE/RL question at United Nations headquarters in New York, Tajik
Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov
said that a thorough inspection of the rail lines that Uzbekistan claimed have been damaged by floods and mudslides had revealed no
He said the railroads in Uzbekistan were in satisfactory condition to allow for the transportation of
freight trains without hindrance.
"After inspection, there was no significant damage discovered and the
passage of the freight trains could have been resumed without
obstruction," Oqilov said. "That's why this
is only an excuse that because of some technical problems the freight trains
couldn't continue to Tajikistan."
Oqilov said the blockade is depriving many Tajik
farmers of fuel just as the seed-planting season approaches.
Some of the freight cars contain construction materials for the Roghun hydroelectric power plant, a project that Uzbekistan opposes.
Uzbekistan is unhappy with water-resources distribution in Central Asia, where 60 percent
of all water in the region originates in Tajikistan. Tashkent is concerned that if the Roghun project
is completed, it will deprive Uzbekistan of an important water resource for irrigation.
But Oqilov said that the water reservoir at Roghun would take decades to fill and its effect on the
environment would be negligible.
"This water reservoir is not going to fill to full capacity in one or two
years, it will take decades," Oqilov said.
"I think that all these issues of energy consumption may be solved in a
civilized manner for the benefit of all Central Asian people."
If Tajikistan completes the construction of Roghun, he
said, it would satisfy not only Tajikistan's power needs but even the needs of some of its neighbors,