DUSHANBE, August 25, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- The government has postponed the introduction of Shahriston Tunnel into operation till December 2012, Rustam Abdulloyev, deputy director of the Dushanbe-Chanak Highway Rehabilitation Project Implementation Unit (PIU), said in an interview with Asia-Plus.

“The tunnel was supposed to be introduced into operation in September this year but at request of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is building the tunnel, the date of the introduction of the Shahriston tunnel into operation has been postponed,”  the PIU deputy director said.  According to him, soft rock complicates the construction work.

To-date, builders have constructed some 4,900 meters of the motorway tunnel and nearly 4,900 meters of the ventilation tunnel, Abdulloyev said.

The 5,252-meter Shahriston Tunnel is part the Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak highway rehabilitation project.  The tunnel is being constructed with help of specialists from China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).  A total budget for construction of the Shahriston Tunnel is US$51.7 million.

The Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak highway rehabilitation project was launched in summer 2006.  Chinese company, China Road and Bridge Corporation, won the tender and Beijing in 2006 offered Tajikistan grants and loans to fund the project.  A total project cost is estimated at $295.9 million, including $281.1 million provided by the Chinese government in a form of a long-term loan.  The loan carries a 20-year period and an interest rate of 2 percent per annum.  The remaining some $14.8 million have been provided by the Government of Tajikistan.