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Tuesday, 10 July 2018 09:31

Interview in the Expert magazine

Kazakhstan is a key transit hub for Central Asia Region due to its geostrategic situation in Eurasia and its location in the intersection of the Great Silk Way. This fact binds to improve transport and logistic system of the country.
Integra Construction KZ was the first company in the history of independent Kazakhstan, which began constructing railways. This is the largest railway construction, upgrading and rehabilitation enterprise in the country. The company has laid over 2 thousand km and repaired about 5 thousand km of steel main roads.
Below you will find an interview with Rustem Moldagulov, the Director General of Integra Construction KZ, where he answers question related to the impact of railways on the economy of Kazakhstan.
New way
— Mr. Moldagulov, this year Integra Construction KZ is going to celebrate its 20th anniversary. What is the role of the company in the renewal of the Great Silk Way?
— Railway network of the country was optimized with the view of the national economy needs in the years of independence. However, the technological integrity of CIS network was retained. The total length of Kazakhstan railway network amounted to 13.8 thousand kilometers in 1992. The network changed significantly due to the construction of important connecting lines: for the moment, over 16 thousand km of railways run across the whole country. In particular, all important routes and intermodal corridors from China to the markets of neighboring countries and further on run through the territory of Kazakhstan. There are three main directions of transit corridors based on the existing railway network: 2.7 km of Northern Corridor, 2.8 thousand km of Central Corridor and finally 3.4 thousand km of Southern Corridor.

Our company took part in implementation of infrastructure projects improving transit potential of Kazakhstan (in particular, in the construction of border crossings at the entry point of Dostyk – Alashankou and Altynkol – Khorgos) and facilitated railway connection to the networks of neighboring countries. We put into operation a dry port at “Khorgos – Eastern Gate” Special Economic Zone.
Construction of Kuryk ferry complex for all-purpose cargo and passenger ferries on the coast of Caspian Sea is being finished. The implementation of the above projects allowed to increase the volume of transit cargo traffic through Kazakhstan three times for the last four years. Herewith, the terms to deliver cargo from the countries of Pacific Region to Europe reduced two times.
— The company implements projects, which are aimed at the development of transport infrastructure of the country and the growth of its transit potential. Apparently, you don’t have minor projects. However, what projects are of utmost importance in your opinion? Which projects are considered the most complicated? Why these projects?
— I think it’s important not only to mention the projects themselves but to highlight their significance for Kazakhstan. In particular, at early 2000s we built 195 km of Aksu – Degelen railway, which connected Semipalatinsk Region with Ekibastuz and Pavlodar Region reducing the distance to 600 km approximately.
450 km long Khromtau – Altynsarino railway line was put into operation in 2003. This project helped to save time for crossing Russian border with double border and customs check.
293 km long Zhetygen – Korgas railway line was put into operation in 2012. Opening of the second Altynkol – Khorgos railway border entry point and the above line enabled to increase transit and transport potential on the border with China. Altynkol is the largest border station consisting of 1520 and 1435 mm gauges. The total length of station tracks is 32 km. The station has several loading and unloading terminals for different types of cargo, container yard, complex for current cuts repair and a full range of modern equipment to identify cars.
Zhezkazgan – Beineu railway line was constructed and put into operation in 2015. This main line, which is 1 036 km long, runs across underpopulated territories of Karaganda, Kyzylorda, Aktobe and Mangistau Regions. Our company implemented more than a half of the project scope having constructed 547 km of Zhezkazgan – Saksaulskaya railway line section, thus having reduced the distance to transport both domestic and international cargos. Residential settlements for railway personnel, which were built within the frames of project implementation, resulted in additional social-and-economic effect.
214 km long Arkalyk – Shubarkol railway line running across Karaganda and Kostanay Regions was put into operation in the same 2015 year. This new railway spur allowed to save 1.5-2 days and to reduce transport costs by 35% in the mean. Whereas the coal from Shubarkol was transported by a longer way through Kyzylzhar before, now it goes directly to CIS countries, Baltics and further on through Arkalyk.
Besides, “Khorgos – Eatern Gate” dry port was put into operation in 2015 and it is fully operated now. We constructed railways under this project and performed works on the dry port infrastructure development.
110 km of second tracks were laid at Almaty 1 – Shu section in 2017 within the frames of Nurly Zhol Infrastructure Development Program, which helped to increase the capacity of the section and to reduce the time of cargo and passenger trains two times.
First three-track 2.5 km long railway overpass was built in Kazakhstan within the frames of new Nurly Zhol railway station construction in Astana. A service yard and other necessary infrastructure were built within the project as well. The railway station has no rival in CIS countries and is one of the modern railway stations built recently in the world. Its capacity amounts to 35 thousand passengers per day. This facility was put into operation in 2017 on the threshold of Expo. Each of these projects is important both for economic situation of separate regions and Kazakhstan’s economy as a whole.
Sphere of influence
— Does Integra Construction KZ have any competitors in Kazakhstani market?
— Actually, any branch has competition today. Market economy is not an exclusion. Moreover, Kazakhstan joined WTO and our market is open for all the world. However, we perform about 70% of total scope of works on main railway networks of the country and our intention is to keep this up. The company has a large network consisting of 5 branches in the territory of Kazakhstan, which include 7 track maintenance trains and 15 production facilities. We have a modern fleet of track and construction equipment, comprising of about 2.5 thousand units. Above 1700 highly qualified employees work for the company. This number reaches 5000 persons during seasonal trackworks.
— You mentioned entering international markets. In which countries does the company work?
— Today we reached such a level, that it became necessary to enter the markets of adjoining countries and international market. Our experience makes us a serious competitor at external markets. Particularly for this purpose we renamed the company from “Zhol Zhondeushi” Company” LLP into “Integra Construction KZ” LLP. Today our company has branches in Russia, Georgia, Italy and UAE. We cooperate or work through our affiliated company ZGOP a.d. — Novi Sad in Serbia in order to tap European market. This is the only company on Balkans, which is engaged in the construction of railways, track maintenance vehicles and equipment construction and repair.
Comprehensive approach
— Does Integra Construction KZ deal with upper superstructure only or does it approach projects implementation in a comprehensive way?
— We do not just lay the railway bed, but we create all related infrastructure from preliminary works to installation of signaling, communication, overhead contact lines, we build engineering structures and perform civil works. The company is able to implement any project on a turnkey basis as it has all necessary resources. Such comprehensive approach helps to improve terms, to control quality and speed of construction materials delivery to construct both facilities and important engineering structures.
— What new technologies and competencies do you use in the process of construction?
— We are the first Kazakhstani company, which trained its employees in Germany to teach them European technology of railway construction. Managers and engineers of the company hold international certificates in project management and work with modern software. They are able to implement projects under international contracts based on FIDIC.
— How many sections with overdue terms for general overhaul are there on the railway?
— There are some sections to be repaired in the nearest future. The capacities of our company enable to repair above 500 km per year. This year our company is going to repair above 425 km of track: 362 km on the line of main employer and 63 km of outresourced works.
Social aspect
— How would you evaluate the impact of implemented projects on social situation and extending of opportunities for population and business?
— Railway construction has a multiple effect, it results in the growth of employment: thousands of work places were created in the process of railway construction and subsequent operation, including work places for women. One more consequence is the development of related sectors of national economy: communication, power economy, information technologies, tourism, development of such branches as metallurgy, machine engineering, power industry, construction operations. The availability of railway enables to increase the extraction of commercial minerals and, as a result, to improve export. Therefore, 20 years after, our company looks to the future with confidence, complying with its slogan “Experience. Quality. Result”. We aspire to make the life better shortening distances between the spots on the world map.

 

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