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M.Zorigt: Transportation development depends on Mongolia’s relations with China and Russia

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

The following is an interview with Minister of Road and Transportation M.Zorigt. He spoke about roads and transportation projects completed last year and plans for this year.

The Ministry of Roads and Transportation does wide-scale development work. Can you tell us what kind of projects were completed for civil aviation last year?

Last year was an important time for defining sustainable development and policy directions, and making large improvements to the civil aviation sector. We completed many progressive works related to aviation personnel, investment and cooperation.
One of the major projects we’re implementing for the civil aviation sector is the construction of the new airport in Khushig Valley. This is a comprehensive project that is also related to roads, transportation logistics and railway. The highway to the new airport will be constructed in March. A study is underway for a railway to be built for the development of passenger transportation and logistics. Around a billion USD has been allotted to projects related to the new airport. The airport project has been included in the concession list to increase its investment and social contribution. We’re also working to find suitable partners who have been internationally recognized and experienced.
The purpose of the new airport projects is to open an international airport, develop tourism and passenger transportation, as well as improve production and services related to these sectors. We’re working to ensure that the full project investment can be retrieved within a specific period, maybe in 30 to 40 years’ time. The ministry will meet with the Japanese side within this week to establish a concessional agreement. The negotiations should be finalized by the end of March. Everything related to the staff, operations and equipment of the new airport is being completed at a company specialized in these fields.

State Secretary of the Ministry of Roads and Transportation J.Bat-Erdene recently returned from his business trip to China and Russia. Was there any beneficial negotiations for the aviation sector?

Foreign relations is an important section of the civil aviation sector. Mongolia focuses on two main objectives. The first focus point is to attract investment for enhancing air navigation equipment, ensuring safety and security of aviation companies that conduct flights over Mongolia, and providing necessary services. Mongolia monitors a radius of 30 km at the national level at the moment. The second focus point is expansion of operations and cooperation with China and Russia regarding air transport.
Last November, State Secretary of the Ministry of Roads and Transportation J.Bat-Erdene visited Russia and met with representatives from the Russian civil aviation sector. The two sides were able to agree on a protocol to choose one system for European flights that pass through Mongolia. This means that Russia and Mongolia will co-organize projects to increase the number of airplanes that pass through Mongolia.
Another meeting will be held with the Russian and Chinese sides in February to discuss proposals in more detail and put them to work. Afterwards, experts from both countries will come to Mongolia to assess aviation safety and security.

Is it true that Mongolia will open new air routes?

Mongolia’s border with China is longer than the border with Russia. A working group has been assigned to plan routes so that flights from Southeast Asia to Europe can pass through Mongolia and evaluate how Mongolia can increase the number of flights and ensure security. The Chinese working group will come to Mongolia next week and work at the Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia.
Chinese airplanes headed to the east and back fly around Mongolia. Mongolia has six air corridors with China. At a recent meeting with Chinese representatives, we discussed to open another air corridor and let airplanes headed from Southeast Asia to Europe pass through Mongolia. In general, we annually meet with the Russian and Chinese sides to discuss and determine various issues related to the aviation sector. I’m sure that some progressive decisions will be made at the meeting to be held in February.

What has the ministry done for the railway sector?

Mongolia has only one railway and it is owned by the Ulaanbaatar Railway Joint Stock Company. Domestic cargo makes up 80 percent of the cargo turnover of Ulaanbaatar Railway JSC. This is not efficient. The company is in a difficult condition. The Ministry of Roads and Transportation is working with Russia and China to strengthen the financial capacity of the railway sector and increase profitable cargos.
We’ve reached an agreement regarding the introduction of transit transportation with our two neighboring countries. Mongolia started a transit transportation of crude oil with Russian Rosneft Company from late 2015. The overall projection shows that it’s possible to annually ship 3.2 to four million tons of crude oil through Mongolia. We have to maintain and even increase the amount of transit transportation. The Mongolian side proposed a joint transit transportation company of Mongolia, Russia and China during our recent meeting. The required documents have been developed and sent to the Chinese and Russian sides. All sides will consult on this joint company within the first quarter of 2016. Establishing a joint company will help increase railway transit transportation and enhance financial capacity.
We’ve been aiming to make profitable decisions for investment issues lately. That’s why, the ministry started a project to upgrade alarm and communications systems, which have been discussed for many years. The air throughput will increase by a minimum of 30 percent if the project is successful. Air cargo throughput can even reach 36 million tons a year. Our policy encourages the private sector to invest.

Gashuun Sukhait railway has been causing quite a turmoil among politicians and businessmen. How is the railway development work progressing? Will it be completed within 2016?

The 267-km-long railway between Tavan Tolgoi and Gashuun Sukhait has been discussed for many years. It’s become stagnant at the moment. We’re discussing to restart the project this year at the government level. We’re focusing on attracting investment for it as a railway development project rather than connecting it to a mining project.

Development of roads is an important part of the transportation sector. Tell us about the road projects that will commence this year?

Several roads will be constructed this year with foreign grants and loans. A road will be built between Baruun Urt to Bichigt Town. The road can later be developed into a cross-country road. We hope to connect this road to Russia.
The ministry will focus on the railway construction that will follow this road from Khuut coal mine. The route of the railway will be Khuut coal mine-Bichigt-Choibalsan-Ereentsav soum center- Solovevsk, Russia. As for the western region, a 189-km-long road is under construction from Khovd to Ulgii. This road is strategically significant for Mongolia as it connects our northern and southern neighboring countries.
We’re also discussing to add international routes to the highway from Zamiin-Uud border point to Altanbulag soum.

Although Mongolia is a land-locked country, it’s important to develop maritime transportation. What is the ministry doing to expand operations of Mongolian registered ships in Singapore? 

Maritime transportation has become the backbone of international trade and the global economy. It’s more of a relation rather than a transport. Mongolia is engaged in maritime transportation through a joint venture in Singapore. We’ve established a Mongolia-South Korean joint company at a harbor in South Korea. The ministry is negotiating cooperation proposals for maritime transportation with the USA and other countries.

Source: mminfo.mn

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=18050

Posted by on Jan 25 2016. Filed under Prime Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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