Iraq launched a US$17 billion project on Saturday to link a major commodities port on its southern coast by rail and roads to the border with Turkey, in a move designed to transform the country’s economy after decades of war and crisis.
The Development Road aims to tie the Grand Faw Port in Iraq’s oil-rich south to Turkey, turning the country into a transit hub by shortening travel time between Asia and Europe in a bid to rival the Suez Canal.
“The Development Road is not just a road to move goods or passengers. This road opens the door to development of vast areas of Iraq,” Farhan al-Fartousi, director general of the General Company for Ports of Iraq, told Reuters.
Iraq’s government envisions high-speed trains moving goods and passengers at up to 300 kilometres (186.41 miles) per hour, links to local industry hubs and an energy component that could include oil and gas pipelines.