Sartak-Pishta border crossing on the border between Halabja and Iranian Kurdistan hopes to complete work in by the end of August to meet international standards to become an official crossing. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — As the deadline looms, construction has been ramped in order to finish the Sartak-Pishta crossing between the Kurdistan Region and Iran, so it can be officially recognized by the Iraqi government.
Iraq has conditioned that the crossing must have standards like reliable water service, electricity, suitable roads, and 13 departments for trade exchange; otherwise, it will rescind a previous decree to officially recognize it as an official international gate between the Kurdistan Region's Halabja province and Iran.
"The plan we have is to finish work on it before August 24," Salar Abdullah, the head of the border crossing affairs in the KRG, told Rudaw.
They plan to internationalize three other crossings at Kele, Sayran-Ban and Tawela-Shushme.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is suffering economic issues and it is interested in having as many crossings as possible to the world," he added.
Iran has 86 official and unofficial crossings with its neighbors. Iran and the Kurdistan Region share three official crossings such as Haji Omaran, Parvizkhan and Bashmakh with many other unofficial ones.
According to the Garmiyan customs data, the Pishta crossing's annual income is estimated at 1.8 billion dinars and they say it will inevitably increase once it has been officially internationalized.
Some 800 construction workers toil at the site to finish the project as soon as possible.
"I am calling on the Kurdistan Regional Government to supply the mechanisms we lack, so work at the crossing can finish work before the deadline," Aso Mahmood, a representative for Pishta’s businessmen, told Rudaw. "On August 24, the relevant [Iraqi] ministries who had come here will come back and if work is not finished, I think they will once again close it."
Another businessman working at the crossing echoed that business at the site will boost if the construction is undertaken properly.
The KRG funds the project.
On the other side, Iran has been working to expand the crossing. It lies between Jwanro town on the Iranian side and Bamo in the Kurdistan Region.
KRG and Iranian officials in early May discussed plans
to develop business ties at a conference in Erbil in May.
Trade volume between the Region and Iran was around $5.5 billion in 2017.
As the Kurdistan Region held its independence referendum in September 2017, relations between the two sides deteriorated as Iran closed its borders and airspace. The border officially reopened in late January and the flights restarted in March.