DUSHANBE, December 3, 2015, Asia-Plus -- The Kulma border-crossing checkpoint, which is the only overland border crossing along the 450-kilometer boundary between the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, has made shift to a winter operation schedule.

An official source at the Customs Service under the Government of Tajikistan says that although Tajikistan and China reached an agreement on a year-round operation of the Kulma border-crossing checkpoint, a floating operation schedule has been set for the crossing during the winter period.

The decision has reportedly been made following cold weather and heavy snowfalls reported in the Kulma area.

“Under the winter operation schedule, in the next four months the crossing will stay open only eight days; in December it will work on 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24, and 25; in January it will work on 5, 6, 7, 8, 19, 20, 21 and 22; in February it will work on 1, 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, and 19; and in March the crossing will work on  1, 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, and 19,” the source said.

Opened in 2004, the Tajik-China trade route runs from Khorog, the capital of Gorno Badakhshan in southeastern Tajikistan, over a high-altitude plateau and then down into China, where it ends in the city of Kashgar, 700 kilometers away.

As conditions are so tough at the Kulma border crossing, which is located on a mountain pass 4,400 meters high, until May 1 2008, the gateway had stayed open only 15 days out of every month, while from November through April it had been closed altogether.

From 2008 to 2012, the Kulma crossing operated every day, except weekends, from May through November.

Tajikistan and China reached an agreement on a year-round operation of the Kulma border-crossing checkpoint on December 29, 2011 but it became possible only in 2012, when all necessary conditions were created to ensure the year-round operation of the Kulma border crossing.

The Kulma Pass is a mountain pass across the Pamir Mountains on the border between the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China.  Asian Highway AH66 runs through the pass.  

The 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 km by road to Murgab. On the Chinese side, the pass is 13.9 km from Karasu, a port of entry on the Karakorum Highway which leads to Tashkurgan (60–70 km) and Kashgar (220 km).