Uzbek official says China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway is moving forward, but rules out PPP

By Muzaffar Ismailov in Tashkent November 7, 2023

The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway construction project is still moving forward, according to Uzbekistan’s deputy transport minister Jasurbek Choriev.

There has been strong speculation in recent months that China has shelved the CKU infrastructure investment because the billions of dollars that would be needed to build the railway across mountainous Chinese and Kyrgyz territory are not presently available through any viable financing model. Bishkek has remained adamant that that is not the case and that talks on financing are continuing.

Attending the XVI Verona Eurasian Economic Forum in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Choriev agreed that the project was not shelved.

He added that the project could not be implemented via a public-private partnership (PPP), saying: "There can be no PPP. This is infrastructure, this is the whole construction of a $5bn project. PPP is not considered — it is a strategic object. Maybe there will be some consortium, because there are three players here, and maybe other countries will be interested, who will come with their money."

Choriev noted that Uzbekistan was prepared to invest its own money in the construction of the railway as the alternative transit route would create economic growth. However, the Uzbek section of the CKU would be the least challenging and expensive to construct.

In September, Kyrgyz transport and communications minister Tilek Tekebayev said that the CKU could be built through a PPP or via the attraction of loans.

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