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No Route Out: Commercial transport stranded at crucial Lars Pass

No Route Out: Commercial transport stranded at crucial Lars Pass; only north-south link

NEWS | 14.12.12 | 15:23


By GOHAR ABRAHAMYAN ArmeniaNow reporter

The only highway connecting Armenia with the rest of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is closed for weather conditions, the official reports says, while cargo companies believe the reason is Russian-Georgian tensions.

Armenian Ministry of Transport and Communications reports that Stepantsminda-Lars highway on the Russian-Georgian border - the key trade highway linking Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Russia - is blocked for truck trailers, semi-trailers and buses larger than 30-seaters.

The ministry does not have data on how many Armenian trucks are stuck at Upper Lars right now and doesn't know when the road will be available to them.

Christine Khanjyan, manager of BiaynaTrans international shipping company operating in Armenia since 2004, told ArmeniaNow that for three days the company's four vehicles are stuck there, one with cargo to Russia, the other three are returning to Armenia.

`The truck drivers say snow is not being cleaned fast enough, the grit salt spreading vehicles are not allowed to work, which suggests that it is the deteriorated Georgian-Russians relations blocking the road, rather than the weather,' says Khanjyan, adding that although the delayed shipping might not hurt the economy, customers suffer damage by not receiving goods that might, under normal conditions, have already been sold at retail.

A representative of NeoTrans international freight forwarder company performing worldwide services told ArmeniaNow that although they know the road is blocked, their truck will be coming from Russia through that road.

`What can we do, there are other ferry roads via the Ukraine or Novorosiysk, but it is multiple times more expensive, which makes it pointless, so we have no other way, but adjust to the weather conditions and Russian-Georgian whims,' says the representative, adding that the snowstorms in that area are usually strong and there have been cases when the road turned impassable three minutes after it had been cleaned.