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Dutch Firm Says Kurdistan Can Build Better and Cheaper Roads

By Armando Cordoba 5/7/2013
A brand new highway connecting the city of Sulaimani to the Dukan summer resort. Photo: kurdsat
A brand new highway connecting the city of Sulaimani to the Dukan summer resort. Photo: kurdsat

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Better soil may be the solution for more durable roads and highways in Kurdistan, according to a Dutch company that wants to introduce a new technology to the autonomous Iraqi region.

Representatives from Netherlands-based Terra Stab met with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) recently to discuss how a new technique, known as “soil stabilization,” could solve a big problem: building a large network of roads that can last, despite the wear-and-tear from large truckloads and cargo.

Maarten Maas, engineer and representative for Terra Stab, said that soil stabilization guarantees a 20-year life for roads.

Terra Stab’s technique first assesses the soil within a region to understand its strengths and weaknesses, and then injects certain minerals and chemicals into the soil to compensate for debilities. The end result is a stronger and longer-lasting foundation for roads and highways.

“Basically we make a new formed foundation for your road networks that will make it last longer,” Maas explained.

In the most recent Regional Development Strategy for 2012 to 2016, Kurdistan’s Ministry of Planning noted that wear-and-tear on roads from large truckloads and cargo was a major hurdle to creating a large, efficient road network across the landlocked region.

Using the new technique, Maas said, Kurdistan could save a tremendous amount of money on imported raw materials, because it would use its own natural soil to make the foundation.

At a recent tourism investment conference in Erbil, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that a total of $350 million would be needed to build additional infrastructure, including roads and services, to stimulate industry within Kurdistan.

To achieve this, the Ministry of Planning said it hopes to increase the length of roads to 45,000 kilometers and to also construct three highways to connect major cities with each other and neighboring countries. The plans also include better bridges, tunnels and public transportation.

The total cost of the infrastructure project, along with improvements in various sectors, is estimated at $1.1 billion, according to the ministry.

“If you can use your existing soil as a foundation for your road, you save a lot of time and money,” Maas said.

The KRG hopes to achieve its lofty development goals within the next five years.

Maas said if the roads are built quickly and efficiently, these goals are more likely to be achieved, helping the region also achieve its economic goals.

Without a highly connected road system, the Ministry of Planning claims the economic sector in the region will not prosper.

This is due to the massive amount of trade linking the Kurdistan Region to Turkey and Iran.

Serwan Said, mayor of Rovia, a small trader’s town, recently told Rudaw that good roads are essential because of the oil and gas transported from the energy-rich enclave, and for the crucial link the region plays between Europe and Asia.

Kurdistan the shortest route from Europe to the economically booming Gulf region, outside of transport from large cargo liners through the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal.


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fırat | 5/7/2013
The roads are too important. We're waiting more durable roads in Kurdistan. Because the existing roads are too weak. The companies are using cheap elements for the roads. Our cars are frazzling on this roads. The money is going to trash. I hope, the new roads will be more effective, durable.
Kurdo | 5/7/2013
As I've heard, most of the roads in Kurdistan are built by turkish companies. If that's true, well, no wonder the quality is bad. Turks don't do anything right, it would suprize me if they did build the roads with good quality.
fırat | 6/7/2013
I'm sorry but you have wrong info about the companies. If you go to your engineering school ( like Selahattin university ) you can easily see the reality about roads and quality.
Bakir Lashkari
Bakir Lashkari | 6/7/2013
Essentially the bad qualities of the roads are subject to a cheap, quickly and not monitors working methods. The Turkish, Iranian and other neighbouring countries abused the most needed infrastructure in the Kurdistan region, by using extensive cheap workers and as well as not having a good examination of the kind of Soil which the Asphalts could be resistance to. It is a good idea that some Dutch companies are looking at the Kurdistan Infrastructure and highways, but there a better Dutch Quality companies other than Terra Stab, Like ASKO and ZOAB‐asphalt which can exactly resolve the high ways quality as well as the sustainability of the roads. I would rather advise the KRG Ministry of Planning to contact the VNG ( Untied Municipality of Netherlands) in the Hague, so they can help them how to approach this infrastructure issues. I can be helpful to introduce the KRG representatives to bring them in contact with the Mayor of the Hague to help them to address this issue.
Riha | 6/7/2013
Letting the Dutch make the roads will give Kurdistan no headache. The roads in Netherlands are top notch.
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