October 13, 2004, a date at least significant. The “construction of the century” ended, which lasted a long 28 years - the Shulbinsky shipping lock on the Irtysh was commissioned. Indeed, Kazakhstan has high hopes for this hydraulic structure.
But let's start over. If you follow the chronology of a long construction epic called “shipping to Irtysh”, you need to remember 1939 - the construction of the first Ust-Kamenogorsk shipping lock began here. Unique in its design of a hydraulic structure, having 18 and 100 meters in size. His pent-up pressure was then an unprecedented bar - 42 meters. It took about 14 years to complete the construction of this project.
The first lock of the Ust-Kamenogorsk shipping lock was made on June 3, 1953. For 49 years of operation, 31105 fleet units passed through it. For such a long service life, concrete and metal structures of the Ust-Kamenogorsk shipping gateway have been subject to destruction and corrosive wear. The greatest danger was the counterforce threshold of the upper head of the airlock, the strength of concrete at the base of the pressure face was 1.6 times lower than the design one. The metal constructions of the chamber were in an emergency condition. Urgent repairs were required for such a large-scale structure.
In 1976, the construction of the Shulbinsky gateway on the Irtysh was started, and in September 1978 the river was closed.
Since then shipping between Semipalatinsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk was discontinued. 12 years later, during the collapse of the USSR “building the future”, the hope of creating a transit shipping corridor China - Kazakhstan - Russia stopped due to lack of funds. The construction of the Shulbinsky gateway and the repair of the Ust-Kamenogorsk lock were not resumed in the future.
According to the terms of the agreement, the American company AES, which came to manage a hydropower plant in an already independent Kazakhstan, was to continue construction, but, despite the commitments, it did not carry out work. In 2002, the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the country finally decided to complete the construction of the Shulbinsky Gateway. The general contractor was determined - Gidropromstroy. The government allocated about 1 billion tenge from the republican budget for these purposes and since January 2003, work at the gateway has boiled.
On October 13, 2004, one of the largest “long-term construction projects” - the Shulbinsky gateway was commissioned. If you make a small calculation, you can understand that 90% of the work was done in a record short period - in less than two years. In addition, repair work was carried out in parallel on the “old-timers” - Ust-Kamenogorsk and Bukhtarma gateways, and a caravan of ships and motor ships was cleared for clearing the fairway, 796 km long. waterways of the Irtysh.
At that time, the CIS countries carried out all the survey work on the maintenance of waterways using the old method. The bottom is examined with an ordinary pole. Thus, in order to carry out, for example, exploration work on the Irtysh waterway, it will take at least seven years.
Kazakhstan’s programmers, together with Russian, are busy introducing a new technology for exploration. Kazakhstan, since 2005, intends to start work in a new technological mode of exploration along the rivers. Using a computer through satellite navigation, all geographic parameters are determined to the nearest micron. Equipment with the new program will allow to explore the bottom of the rivers for 1-2 field seasons. Moreover, this program immediately issues pilot cards, which is not done by any system.
The opening of the Shulbinsky gateway will allow connecting China and Russia along the waterway of Kazakhstan - the Irtysh. This river is the main thoroughfare of the shipping route located on the territory of Kazakhstan. It runs from the village of Buran to the border with Russia and crosses the East Kazakhstan and Pavlodar regions from south to north over 1,718 km. The waterways include the Black Irtysh River, Zaisan Lake, the Bukhtarma and Ust-Kamenogorsk reservoirs, the Irtysh River from Ust-Kamenogorsk to the village of Azov, where the Shulbinsky reservoir zone begins, and further to the border with Russia.
It is known that the cost of transporting one ton of cargo by water is 4-5 times cheaper than by road, and 1.5-2 times than by rail. It is necessary to recognize that passenger transportation in the presence of three locks will be very long and, most likely, this type of transportation can be used as walking and tourist routes. Cargo transportation by water, including also the transportation of various natural materials from the “transport dead ends”, expands the transit possibilities of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan has high hopes for transit through the Irtysh. The Kazakh side received a proposal to the Chinese neighbors to resume the through navigation through the Irtysh.
At the international conference "Perspectives of Central Asia as a transit bridge between Europe and Asia", held in late April this year in Almaty, the director of the transit policy and foreign relations department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Kazakhstan Rustem Zhumataev stressed that this transit could reach "2 million. and more tons per year. "
In turn, the Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan, Zhou Xiaopei, said that his country was ready for negotiations, but expressed doubts about the feasibility of this project. The Chinese side, in turn, wants to have an economic rationale for this project: how justified will it be and whether it will bring the desired result. At the same time, China does not forget (or does not want to forget?) That its part of the river is “slightly shallow” for navigation.
High hopes are placed on this hydraulic structure. First, cargo transportation will be mastered along the entire length of the Irtysh River, and the planned cargo turnover is 1 million 200 thousand tons per year. It is assumed that the transportation of goods along the main waterway will give an impetus to attract various kinds of investments, which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the development of the infrastructure of the entire East Kazakhstan region. Secondly, the launch of the gateway makes it possible to pass the dam of the Shulbinsk Hydroelectric Power Station without interruption. Previously, passengers, having reached the dam by boat, were forced to cross it by bus, so that on the other side they could transfer to another ship.
Hopefully, with the commissioning of the gateway. Water tourism will also develop, pleasure voyages will open to numerous recreation areas of the East Kazakhstan region - the Shulbinsky and Bukhtarminsky reservoirs, Lake Zaisan, about the beauty of which there are legends even outside the republic.
Once there were two river shipping companies operating in East Kazakhstan, shipyards were operating. Can still be reborn.