Iraq has completed the $3 billion first phase of the dry canal project to transport commodities between Basra and the Arabian Gulf, Nebras Alkhazraji, advisor to the Iraqi minister of construction and housing, told Zawya.
The two-phase project is estimated to cost a total of USD 7 billion. The canal will link between Basra to the Arabian Gulf via a highway running through Khan Al Khalil in Turkey, Alkhazraji said.
The Iraqi government is now considering adding a third phase at a cost of USD 1 billion to link Mosul in northern Iraq and Syria, he added.
Iraqi infrastructure needs revamping and maintenance after years of war, Alkhazraji said. "The dry canal project will shorten commodity transport from Basra, through Suez Canal, to Europe to 10 days from the current 30 days," he said.
The USD 3 billion first phase, which extends from Basra to Baghdad, uses three transfer highways and a total distance of of 550 km, Alkhazraji said. The USD 4 billion second phase is expected to kick off after nine months following the finalization of the design. The second phase is forecasted to be complete by 2016.
"The project will enhance transport industry in general and underpin the Iraqi economy amid tumbledown transport system in Iraq and bad-maintained international routes that link Iraq with neighboring countries," said Ahmed Al Atwani, the professor of economics at the University of Wasit. The project will facilitate cargo transfer from the producer to the consumer, between Iraq, Turkey and the GCC states, he said.