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Tajik Toll Road Raises Public Ire, Stokes Corruption Concerns

Cars and trucks wait to pay a fee at one of the six new toll booths erected on the main road connecting the capital Dushanbe to Tajikistan's second largest city, Khujand. (Photo: Konrad Mathesius)

Abduljali Karimov runs a fruit stand in Hushyori, a village 45 kilometers north of Dushanbe, on the main road to Tajikistan’s second largest city, Khujand. In April, a new neighbor moved in next door: a tollbooth. Since then, he says prices in his mountainous hamlet have been on the rise.

“Drivers have to pay more to pass through the tolls, we have to pay more for our goods and customers have to pay more for our products. It’s not a good situation,” Karimov says.

Chinese contractors working under a $296-million loan from Beijing resurfaced the 345-kilometer road between Tajikistan’s two largest cities between 2007-2010. In April, Innovative Road Solutions (IRS) -- a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and whose ownership a government minister has categorized as a “trade secret” -- opened four tollbooths on the new highway. The company is currently constructing two more tollbooths to open in the coming weeks.

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Tajik Toll Road Raises Public Ire, Stokes Corruption Concerns

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