President Tokayev changes his attitude toward Astana LRT

Строительство ЛРТ в Астане
Photo by Askar Akhmetullin

The construction of light rail transit (LRT) in Astana must be completed, according to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Given that the government has already spent a huge amount of money on the project and the capital city desperately needs a better transportation system, there is no other choice.

The president made this statement during a meeting with Astana officials.

«Previously, I already said that the LRT project was mostly faulty, but now we have no choice but to complete the project. We will book much more losses if we stop right now. There are no alternatives for us,» Tokayev said.

He also ordered the capital city administration and the cabinet to prepare a comprehensive development plan for the Astana transportation system.

The president has reminded officials that they should have analyzed the capacity of bus routes and increased the number of buses. However, people still complain about a shortage of buses. Sometimes they must wait for half an hour or longer, or they can’t get on a bus as it is already full of passengers.

Currently, Astana needs more than 400 buses. This deficit of buses might be doubled in five years. More than 400 bus stops still need a bus bay. Also, the capital city needs about 300 warm bus stops.

In January 2022, while delivering a speech to the Mazhilis, President Tokayev said that the protracted construction of the LRT was annoying people. At the time, he ordered the local administration (akimat) to figure out how to use those LRT pillars that had already been built. The akimat calculated that the city would need $43.4 million to dismantle these pillars. As a result, officials dropped this idea and decided to complete the project.

In December 2022, Astana Mayor Zhenis Kasymbek said that the authorities are going to complete the LRT project in two to three years. The deadline would depend on financing. Recently, Altay Kulginov, former mayor of the city, reported that Kazakhstan paid off a part of a debt to a Chinese consortium, which is responsible for the construction. 

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