Tajikistan’s lower house (Majlisi Namoyandagon) of parliament (Majlisi Oli) has ratified an agreement between the Ministry of Transport of Tajikistan and Iran Water & Power Resources Development Company on completion of construction of the Istiqlol tunnel in Tajikistan.

A regular sitting of the Majlisi Namoyandagon, presided over by its head, Muhammadtoir Zokirzoda, took place on April 8.

Presenting the document to lawmakers, Transport Minister Khudoyor Khudoyorzoda noted that under the agreement signed on January 3, 2020, Iran would allot 5.5 million U.S. dollars in no-strings to Tajikistan for completion of construction of the Istiqlol Tunnel.  

According to him, a total cost of the second phase of the construction of the Istiqlol Tunnel is 11 million U.S. dollars and the rest of the amount will be provided by the Government of Tajikistan.

The minister noted that the funds would be spent to carry out the design work, purchase and install ventilation, lighting, firefighting and safety control systems. 

“These works will be carried out by Iranian company Farab,” Khudoyorzoda said. 

Recall, Chief Executive of Iran Water & Power Resources Development Company Behrouz Moradi noted on December 6 that Iran will complete the construction of the Istiqlol Tunnel.  Under the agreement reached by Iranian and Tajik energy ministers in Tehran in recent days, Iran will take the necessary steps for the completion of the lighting of the tunnel, Moradi said.

The Istiqlol Tunnel, better known among the population as the Anzob Tunnel, was built with assistance of Iranian specialists.  Iran’s Saber International constructed the Istiqlol Tunnel.

The Istiqlol Tunnel is a five kilometer long tunnel located 80 kilometers northwest of Dushanbe.  It connects the Tajik capital to Tajikistan’s second largest city, Khujand.  It is also a transit route between Dushanbe and Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent.  Previously, especially during the cold seasons, a lack of a direct link between northern and southern Tajikistan led to disruptions of commerce.  The tunnel makes the highway from Dushanbe to Khujand open for traffic the whole year round and drops the transit time by four to five hours.

An official opening ceremony of the Istiqlol Tunnel was held in July 2007; however, some parts of the construction have been left half-finished.

Iranian media reports say the tunnel was constructed in three years, “costing US$60 million.”