Travellers Held Up for Hours While Turkmen, South Korean Presidents Visit Petrochemicals Plant

On April 18 passengers travelling down the Caspian coast from Garabogaz to Turkmenbashi had a 10-hour wait on the highway outside the settlement of Kiyanly. The reason? Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was accompanying his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, on a visit to the petrochemicals plant there.

The road had been closed since morning, but buses and taxis travelling from Garabogaz to Turkmenbashi had been let through the local checkpoint without any problems and travelled 200 km towards their destination. However, all the vehicles were stopped on the approach to Kiyanly by police and plain clothes officers, who told the passengers they could go no further.

As a result, dozens of vehicles formed a line on the road

“There were women with young children, old people travelling to Turkmenbashi for treatment or other reasons, but the police wouldn’t even let them off the bus for hours,” one of the passengers told

Only at midday when the passengers’ grumbles morphed into noisy protests — the children had started crying as they were hungry and thirsty, the adults needed to go to the toilet, did the police allow them to get off the bus, the source said. Some police officers shared their food and water with the children. 

At three in the afternoon when the two presidents had left Turkmenbashi, the cordon was lifted and all the vehicles could continue their journey to the city. 

Turkmenistan’s first petrochemical plant was built in Kiyanly by a global consortium led by South Korean company Hyundai Engineering. The South Korean president paid a state visit to Turkmenistan from April 16 to 18, the first leg of a trip that included Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.