The One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the New Silk Road, is in full flow after starting around six years ago in 2013.
The BRI has been called the world’s most ambitious infrastructure project. It will see old trade links reconstructed from Asia through to Europe and involve connections by road, rail and sea, running from China in the east to London, UK in the west.
China has invested around US$90 billion in the project since 2013, but estimates believe that figure for the total project will be more than $1 trillion.
The construction stage in Kazakhstan is a key part of the initiative, where a rail hub – the Khorgos Gateway – is being built in the middle of the desert.
Over 400 Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) machines are working as part of 24 separate projects along the New Silk Road, including in Kazakhstan.
Volvo CE says that not only are roads which were once potholed and dangerous now dramatically improved, but the speed of trade distribution has been increased and new towns are being developed so quickly that they are yet to be found on most printed maps.
As a result of the sheer area that needs be developed – 700km of road which passes nearby the town of Usharal – more than 1,500 local Kazakhs are said to be working alongside nearly 500 Chinese employees in the construction of the trade route.
Tiffany Cheng, director of global external communications, Volvo CE, says, “We believe that true Megaprojects go beyond the physical infrastructure and should also serve to create socially sustainable communities for the people that live there.”