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.