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  A SHORT NOTE ON AYNI-PANJAKENT-UZBEKISTAN BORDER ROAD Ayni-Panjakent-Uzbekistan Border Road, a part of the historic Silk Road built in the Soviet era, runs east west following the Zarafshan river through the valley, crossing Ayni and Panjakent districts before ending at the border with Uzbekistan in the west. The connecting road in Uzbekistan (national road A377) links with Samarkand (about 40 km from the border) via the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 6 in Uzbekistan. Through the north south transport artery in Tajikistan, the project road goes northeast to Khujand (the  provincial center), and onward to Uzbekistan; and south to Dushanbe, onward to Afghanistan through the CAREC Corridor 3 in Tajikistan. The project road is a vital link in the national network, and is regionally strategic as it provides a trade corridor with Uzbekistan in the long term, particularly for northern Tajikistan. Improvements to this road will increase regional connectivity and mobility, reduce transport costs, strengthen competitiveness, and enhance regional cooperation and inclusive economic growth in Tajikistan, particularly in the Sughd  province. This will also improve access to markets and social services for impoverished local communities; stimulate development of agriculture, tourism and mining industries that in return create job opportunities and improve the region’s living standards. Rehabilitation and reconstruction of 113 kilometer long road from Ayni to Uzbekistan border through Panjakent will improve road safety, and upgrade Sarazm border post infrastructure and community development including improvement of feeder roads and public facilities. The contract for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Ayni-Panjakent-Uzbekistan border road, funded by ADB (Grant No. 0301-TAJ (SF)), was awarded to ‘ Xinjiang Bexin Road & Bridge Group Co., Ltd’ of China on 10 November 2012 for execution of the civil works with a completion period of 1095 calendar days which equates to a completion date of 09 November 2015. The US$ 84.7 million cost project is being implemented by the contractor under the supervision of multidisciplinary professionals and nationals from Kocks Consult GmbH of Germany, BCL Associates Ltd of Bangladesh, under a sub-consultancy contract, and the local firm Research, Design and Survey Institute. Team Leader of the consultant was mobilized in time while the BCL staff, Resident Engineer and Quality Assurance Engineer, joined the project in the month of May  2013. The executing agency of the project is Project Implementation Unit, Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Tajikistan headed by the Project Director, Mr M Negmatov. A schematic view of the project road alignment is shown in the following figure. Apart from road and pavement, the civil works include rehabilitation and reconstruction of 31bridges, length varies from 14 m to 140 m, 230 culverts of different sizes appropriate to the road categories, and all associated works such as retaining walls, slope protection works, surface drains, irrigation channels, rock fall fences, rock nets and the like. The project road commences at the junction of Ayni-Panjakent road with Dushanbe-Bustan-Chanok road (km 0+000) and ends at km 112+692 with the Uzbekistan border, 14 kilometer far from Panjakent town. The entire road is divided mainly into two sections; one is from Ayni round about (km 0) to km 47, which will be rehabilitated to category IV standard so as to minimize huge excavation in cut of rocky mountains, because this section traverses through mountainous area with sharp curves and steep gradients. This area is landslide prone and experiences snowfall every year. The first section between km 0 and km 47 will be reconstructed to a standard 2-lane road with 3.0 m lane width and 2.0 m shoulders, with a provision to opt a reduced shoulder at several sections to avoid additional land acquisition or to reduce the project cost, on each side conforming to category IV requirements of SNiP 2.05.02-85.  Rehabilitation of the remaining 66 kilometer road between km 47 and the border with Uzbekistan, the terrain of which is generally flat or gently rolling, includes reconstruction and upgrading of the existing road to a SNiP category III having 12 m roadway including 2 standard lanes of 3.5 m each and 2.0 m shoulder on each side within the existing right of way with an exception in the Panjakent town area (km 89 to km 99). Depending on the properties of the subgrade materials, which are to be verified by the contractor at every 500 m along the entire section of the road, one of the five pavement rehabilitation methods (Rehabilitation Type R1, R2, R3, R4 and R5) is to be adopted for rehabilitation of the existing road. The rehabilitation method includes mainly (i) removal of existing asphalt, (ii) replacement of unsuitable materials below existing pavement, if detected any, and compaction of the substitute material in layers, (iii) subgrade preparation, (iv) construction of the leveling sub- base course layer of variable thickness, minimum 200 mm thick, (v) construction of base course layer with a uniform thickness of 150 mm, (vi) placing a 60 mm thick layer of hot asphalt of  pavement for binder course and (vii) placing a 40 mm layer of wearing course. Because the existing suspension steel bridges are rickety and narrow, all the four dilapidated  bridges located at different locations between km 7 and km 54 are to be replaced and the other 27  bridges shall be rehabilitated or reconstructed depending on the conditions. Contractor has commenced the field work at a snails pace and already is lagging behind the Time Program. Contractor’s preparatory activities like mobilization of equipment, plants and manpower, design of the road and structures and subsequent approval from the Engineer, erection of the contractor’s camp and Engineer’s facilities are now continuing.
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