An Iranian company has won a contract to build a new bridge on Armenia’s border with Georgia which is aimed at facilitating travel and commerce.
The “Friendship Bridge” is to be constructed over the Debed river flowing through the main Armenian-Georgian border crossing at Bagratashen-Sadakhlo. It currently has a single narrow bridge constructed in Soviet times.
The Armenian and Georgian governments signed an agreement on the new bridge in December 2014. The deal came two years after the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) pledged to finance its construction with a loan to be extended to Yerevan. The latter subsequently called an international tender for the right to build the bridge.
The Armenian Ministry of Transport and Communications announced on Monday that an Iranian construction firm, Ariana Tunnel Dam, has won the tender with a 7.4 million-euro ($8.9 million) bid. A ministry statement said Transport Minister Vahan Martirosian and Ariana’s chief executive, Ali Musavi, signed a construction contract earlier in the day.
The statement quoted Martirosian as expressing hope that the Iranians will build the bridge “with high quality and on time.” There was no word on when the construction will start and how long it will take.
The new bridge will be used for Armenia’s trade with not only Georgia but also Russia and Europe. Much of Armenian-Russia trade, worth over $1.5 billion in January-November 2017, is carried out by heavy trucks passing through the Bagratashen-Sadakhlo crossing.
Armenian passport control and customs facilities at Bagratashen were expanded and modernized in 2016 as part of a 54 million-euro program mostly financed by the European Union.