Azerbaijan will implement some transport projects by the opening of the first European Games in Baku in 2015, Azerbaijani Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov said in an interview with 'The Business Year - Azerbaijan 2014' magazine.
The minister added that the entire work on the streets and avenues adjacent to the venues of the Games are scheduled for completion by May 1, 2015.
"Additionally, an action plan on road transport infrastructure has been approved in order to ensure the smooth safe operation of public transport and address other organizational matters ahead of the inaugural European Games due to be held in Baku in 2015," he added.
"This action plan covers the operation of highways, the intelligent transport management system, and the railway network," Mammadov said.
"In the time remaining before the European Games, the Tbilisi, Babak and Ziya Bunyadov avenues are to be reconstructed," he said. "A new road is to be built to the Aquatic Palace, while the stretch of Mikayil Aliyev Street from ??r?glu underground station to Babak Avenue is to be overhauled."
Mammadov stressed that the entire work on the streets and avenues adjacent to the venues of the Games are scheduled for completion by May 1, 2015."
"The section of the plan relating to the intelligent transport management system dictates that Wi Fi systems will be installed at bus stops in Baku in 2014 and in 1Q2015," he said. "The vehicles carrying visiting delegations will be equipped with GPS systems."
The minister added that the special shuttle services will be organized between the Heydar Aliyev Airport, the Olympic village, and other venues of the Games.
"Measures will also be taken to limit daylight construction and reconstruction activities in Baku, while the working hours of bus services in Baku will be extended to 2.00 am for the entire duration of the Games," the minister added.
Mammadov highlighted that the Azerbaijan 2020 development concept envisages the further modernization of the country's transport, transit, and logistical infrastructure, the sustainable development of the country's regions, the effective management of local and international transportation, improving the merit of transportation services provided to the population, and the application of state-of-the-art technologies in the system of payment on public transport.
"Effective measures continued in 2013 to further improve the activities of the sector," he said.
Mammadov added that in an effort to create a modern national transport system, simplify transportation, ensure safety, meet the overall demand for quality transport services, and, in general, improve the level of transportation services, the implementation of projects in this sector has been accelerated.
"The reconstruction of railways and roads of national and local importance, the modernization of existing road infrastructure, the establishment of new infrastructure facilities, the development of international transport corridors passing through the territory of Azerbaijan, the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi -Kars railway project, the new Baku international trade seaport, the modernization of the transport system in Baku, the renewal of vehicle fleet, and other similar activities have contributed to the comprehensive development of the transport sector," he said.
The minister added that in addition to the commodities transported through pipelines in 2013, a total of 160 million tons of cargo was transported in the road transport sector, which is 4.3 % more than in 2012.
"Meanwhile, passenger transports increased by 6.7%. The railway transportation accounted for 23.2 million tons, marine for 11.8 million tons, and road vehicle for 125 million tons," he said.
He added that loading and offloading operations involving 14.2 million tons were carried out at ports.
"A total of 1.5 million passengers were transported by automobiles, 2.4 million by railway, and 1.7 million by air," Mammadov said.
He added that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, which plays a major role in the development of the region and the whole of Europe, is expected to become a new commercial junction in Eurasia.
Minister Mammadov said that the upper structure on an 18.6-kilometer stretch of the 29-kilometer Akhalkalaki-Turkish border section has already been constructed.
"A 2.2-kilometer stretch of the 4.2-kilometer tunnel on the Turkish-Georgian border has built in Turkey, and a 200-meter in Georgia," the minister said. "Although the difficult terrain and severe weather conditions on Turkish and Georgian territory have caused delays to the project schedule, construction will be completed by the end of 2014."
Mammadov also said that in the first 11 months of 2013 a total of 53.6 million tons of cargo was transported along the Europe-Caucasus Asia international transport corridor.
"Of this, 19.3 million tons were carried by railway, 9.4 million tons by sea, and 24.9 million tons by automobiles. Transit goods transported along the corridor accounted for 13.4 million tons. Of those transited goods, 6 million tons were carried by railway and 7.4 million tons by maritime transport," the minister added.
Minister Mammadov also said the volume of maritime freight traffic has declined by 5.7 percent to 11.8 million tons in comparison with the previous year.
"The number of transported passengers was 14,300, while freight turnover reached 4,698.2 million ton-kilometers and passenger turnover 5.2 million passenger-kilometers," the minister underscored.
He also noted that certain works were realized to renew and expand the capacity of the Caspian Shipping Company's fleet.
"Its ship yard was also inaugurated in a ceremony on March 4, 2013 and the plant is now in operation. The construction of the biggest and most sophisticated international trade port in the Caspian basin is underway in Alat, near Baku," Mammadov said.
He went on to add that the dredging work has already been completed on an area of 7.5 kilometers in length and 165 meter width.
"Construction work is now in progress on the ground. The design of the road infrastructure linking the port to the highway and construction of a railway line to the port has virtually been finalized," the minister stressed.
Mammadov said the phase I of the port, including the ferryboat terminal, is scheduled for completion in 2014, adding that a total of 109.4 million Azerbaijani manats has been invested in the project.
He went on to add that the completion of all these activities on this segment of the East-West corridor will transform Azerbaijan into a major transit and logistical center.
The minister also noted that the volume of cargo carried by air has doubled compared to last year's figure to reach 121,700 tons.
"Passenger transportation by air has also increased by 6.2 percent to 1.7 million people," the minister said adding that in an effort to modernize air transport infrastructure, Azerbaijan Airlines has purchased four Embraer 190 and two Embraer 170 passenger aircraft and continued the construction of a new terminal building at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport.
"In addition, the Yevlakh Airport has been re-commissioned after a major overhaul, while the area surrounding the airport has been landscaped and a car park built," Minister Mammadov underscored.