Lengthy Delays Dispatching Containers from Turkmenistan to Russia
Containers carrying the possessions of Turkmen citizens who have emigrated to Russia have finally been dispatched. After some seven weeks held up at Kipchak station near Ashgabat the containers were loaded onto flatcars and began their journey, only to be held up again, this time at Dashoguz near the Uzbek border.
On September 17 turkmen.news published a report about the stranded containers, and approximately a week later they left Ashgabat, according to sources. The original turkmen.news report said that some 20 containers were languishing in a yard, as Turkmen Railways (Turkmendemiryollary) did not have enough flatcars. The owners of the containers’ contents had already arrived in their new homes in Russia, and were having to get by without their personal effects, household goods, furniture, and appliances.
In Ashgabat people were promised tracking numbers so they could locate their containers in real time, but so far all that has been said is that the containers have left Kipchak and are now in Dashoguz.
Turkmen Railways staff say that their counterparts from Uzbek Railways are not letting the trains with the containers through, because the cargo is not in line with Uzbek regulations: three- and five-tonne containers cannot be loaded onto semi-open wagons, while there aren’t all that many 20-tonne containers which can be carried on flatcars. It’s not profitable for Turkmenistan Railways to send a whole train just for three or four such containers.
Apart from the problem of the semi-open wagons, turkmen.news sources refer to shortages of everything — containers, others types of wagon, and flatcars. Ten-tonne containers, for example, have long been out of service, while many of the wagons have either been sold to private individuals within the country or leased out abroad – to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, people in Russia who have been waiting for their containers since August don’t see why Turkmenistan Railways’ problems should affect them, since they’ve paid for a full service, including transit through other countries.
A local company in sole proprietorship, Abrayly gala, is responsible for dispatching and tracking the containers in Turkmen territory. This doesn’t come cheap – they charge around 10,000 manats ($555) for their services, while international transit is charged separately in hard currency – over $600.
While the report was being written, people waiting for their goods were told verbally that the containers had left Turkmen territory. The sources think a decision was taken ahead of the meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of State in Ashgabat on October 11.
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