In a report released at a news conference in Dushanbe, the Minister of Transport Azim Ibrohim revealed on February 8 that rehabilitation of the Qala Khumb – Vanj – Rushan border section of the Dushanbe-Kulob-Khorog-Kulma Pass highway in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) will be completed by the end of this year.  

The minister noted that after the rehabilitation the length of this section of the Dushanbe-Khorog-Kulma Pass highway will be reduced by 16 kilometers, from 109 kilometers to 93 kilometers, due to construction of two tunnels, avalanche gallery and bridges.

“The preliminary work on rehabilitation of the highway’s section from Rushan district to China border is under way,” the minister said, noting that the design of a 235-kilometer section of this highway is nearing completion and Tajikistan reached a preliminary agreement with China on financing a 300-kilometer section of the highway.  

The minister further added that the highway from the administrative center of GBAO’s Darvoz center to Dushanbe and further to Uzbekistan border had already been rehabilitated.  

Mr. Ibrohim noted that the Dushanbe-Kulob-Khorog-Kulma Pass highway will be a part of the interregional transport corridor linking China-Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkiye. 

An official ceremony of the beginning of rehabilitation of the Qala Khumb – Vanj – Rushan border took place on June 23, 2022 and the work on rehabilitation of this section of the highway began in September 2022.    

Chinese company, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), is engaged in rehabilitation of this section of the Dushanbe-Kulob-Khorog-Kulma Pass highway. 

The Dushanbe – Khorog – Kulma Pass highway is the only overland route between Tajikistan and China.

The Dushanbe-Kulob-Khorog-Kulma-Karokurum highway may reference Asian Highway 66 (AH66) as well as parts of the famous Pamir Highway.  AH66 runs from Dushanbe to Xinjiang, crossing the border at Kulma Pass and connecting to the Karakoram highway that runs north-south from China into Pakistan.

The Kulma Pass opens from the north to the southeast, and is 500 m wide from north to south and 1 km in length from east to west with a gentle incline not exceeding 20 degrees.  On the Tajik side, the pass is 80 kilometers by road to Murgab.  On the Chinese side, the pass is 13.9 kilometers from Qarasou, a port of entry on the Karakorum Highway, which leads to Tashkurgan (60–70 kilometers) and Kashgar (220 kilometers).

It is to be noted that the Dushanbe-Khorog highway was built in 1940 in a record three and a half months.  Until 1940, it was possible to get from Khorog to Dushanbe only after driving 732 kilometers to Osh (Kyrgyzstan) by carriage road, and then 1551 kilometers by rail.