Darwaz, Tajikistan; Darwaz, Afghanistan, 6 July 2004 - Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmonov, His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, and Afghanistan’s Vice-President Nematullah Shahrani, today inaugurated the Tajik-Afghan Friendship Bridge in Darwaz, which will consolidate permanent overland links between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Second in a series of bridges to be constructed across the River Panj, the US$500,000 project, undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in collaboration with the two governments, will improve significantly the flow of aid, commerce and trade within Central Asia.
“The bridges carry lessons important for all of us working in mountain environments,” said the Aga Khan, “Which is, that small investments in critical infrastructure enable people to come together, to work together, and to gain better use of economic and social opportunity”.
The 135-metre long suspension bridge has a single-track 3.5 meters wide and a carrying capacity of 25 metric tonnes. It will carry both commercial and passenger traffic. It will also connect hitherto inaccessible parts of Afghanistan with Tajikistan. The only existing bridge linking the two countries is the Tem Bridge connecting Tem in Tajikistan and Demogan in Afghanistan, which was also constructed and funded by the AKDN and opened in November 2002.
The Aga Khan expressed hope that the bridges in the years ahead would enable the free flow of people across the river for their mutual benefit and bring an improvement in the access to social services and in the quality of life.
During his visit to Tajikistan, the Aga Khan joined Prime Minister Okilov of Tajikistan in inaugurating the First MicroFinance Bank in Dushanbe on 5th July. Together with the President of Tajikistan and Vice President of Afghanistan, he also inaugurated the University of Central Asia’s campus in Khorog. The Aga Khan continues his visit in the region.
For further information, please contact: Hakim Feerasta
The Aga Khan Development Network
Telephone: +992 372 21 51 18 or +992 372 24 65 00
Satellite Phone: +0873 762 716 155
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Central and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The Network's agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion. Its underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$230 million.
The AKDN has, since 1993, launched a number of successful initiatives in Central Asia in areas ranging from agrarian reform to education, infrastructure, healthcare, micro-credit, small enterprise development and cultural revitalisation. These include the creation of rural support programmes in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, curriculum development for universities in the region through the Aga Khan Humanities Project, promotion and preservation of musical traditions of the region through the Aga Khan Music Initiative, educational support for students, faculty and university resources for training in a variety of disciplines ranging from English language, and Economics to Architecture and Computer-Aided Design. Cultural and social development initiatives have been enhanced by support for health and education sector reform and formal collaboration with the United Nations, five Central Asian republics and Russia in regional drug control programmes. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), in collaboration with other international investors has established the Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank the country's largest commercial bank. In collaboration with the IFC, AKDN operates the Pamir Energy Company, which operates one of the largest power projects in the region. It has also launched the construction of the University of Central Asia, which will have campuses in Khorog, Tajikistan; Naryn, Kyrgyztan; and Tekeli, Kazakhstan.