Overall transportation volume probably peaked in the late Soviet
period, when enormous inefficiencies added time and distance to
all types of movement. The postindependence correlation of prices
to cost has meant abandonment of uneconomical transportation practices.
The pipeline system, although crucial to the economic welfare
of oil-rich Kazakstan, remains without direct connection to potential
customers in the West and elsewhere. The national telephone system
serves only a small percentage of the population; domestic radio
and television remain limited and state owned.
In 1994 and 1995, annual freight movement by road, which already
accounted for less than 10 percent of Kazakstan's freight haulage,
declined more than 50 percent per year because of the shift to
more efficient means of transport and the country's overall economic
decline. In 1993 Kazakstan counted about 400,000 road vehicles
for freight transport, many of which were pieces of farm equipment.
Available tractors and trailers are mostly small and in poor condition;
the shortage of spare parts and the lack of a domestic truck-manufacturing
industry hinder long-distance haulage.
The passenger bus fleet, which numbered 25,500 vehicles in 1991,
has declined in numbers and quality since the last new buses were
added in 1988. Spare parts are also a problem in bus maintenance,
and local bus service is impeded by government caps on fares.
The basic road infrastructure (about 88,000 kilometers, of which
about 83,000 kilometers are paved or gravel) serves the widely
dispersed population and economic centers adequately. However,
there is a shortage of road maintenance equipment, and construction
and repair contracts are allocated to as many as seventy different
companies and plants owned by the Ministry of Construction and
Housing and the Ministry of Transport and Communications. As a
result, construction and repair operations are disorganized and
Kazakstan Railways is the third largest rail system in the former
Soviet Union, smaller only than the systems of Russia and Ukraine.
In 1991 railroads carried 90 percent of Kazakstan's freight and
30 percent of its passenger traffic. In 1993 the rail system included
14,148 kilometers of track, of which 3,050 kilometers were electrified.
All track was 1,520-millimeter gauge. In 1993 the system carried
about 39.7 million passengers and hauled about 517 million tons
of freight, but haulage declined 42 percent in 1994, most notably
in chemicals, cement, iron ore, and ferrous metals. Like the road
system, Kazakstan Railways suffers from a shortage of spare parts;
as much as 95 percent of spare parts, equipment, and rolling stock
must be purchased from Russia, Ukraine, and other countries. Repair
plants for rolling stock are in poor condition and use outmoded
In 1992 Kazakstan had 2,850 kilometers of pipeline for crude
oil, 3,480 kilometers for natural gas, and 1,500 kilometers for
refined products. The oil pipeline system was designed to ship
domestic oil, most of which is in the western part of the republic,
and to bring Russia's Siberian oil to Kazak refineries. Construction
of a pipeline that would bring Kazakstan's oil to world markets
has proven a major obstacle in the development of the Tengiz field
because of disagreements over routing, financing, and ownership.
Russian control of Kazakstan's only pipelines to the outside world
has restricted oil exports to the West and discouraged foreign
investment in the oil and gas industries. In 1995 Kazakstan, Turkmenistan,
and Azerbaijan, all of which have suffered export shutdowns in
their cross-Russia pipelines, began discussing a massive pipeline
project that would bring their products across China to the Pacific
Ocean and into Japan (see Energy, this ch.).
Kazakstan Airlines was founded in 1993 as a joint-stock company
initially based on 100 aircraft that the republic received as
its share when the Soviet Aeroflot fleet was divided among the
former republics. Six private airline companies also operate within
the republic. The republic airlines of Ukraine and Uzbekistan
began service to Kazakstan's regional airports in 1992, and Lufthansa
of Germany and Turkish Airlines have begun international flights
into Almaty. Air traffic between Kazakstan and other CIS republics
is handled mainly by Aeroflot. The airport at Almaty, Kazakstan's
only international facility, underwent a gradual modernization
of instrumentation, air control, and communications facilities
in the early 1990s; beginning in 1993, international traffic to
and from Kyrgyzstan also moved through Almaty. In 1994, besides
connections with CIS destinations, regular flights went to Frankfurt,
Hannover, Vienna, Zurich, Istanbul, Delhi, Karachi, Tel Aviv,
and Sharjah. In 1991 some 7.9 million passengers and about 36.4
million tons of freight passed through Kazak airports. In 1994
the republic had twenty commercial airports and another 132 classified
as usable, of which forty-nine had permanent-surface runways and
eight had runways longer than 3,600 meters.
The republic's two inland waterways, the Syrdariya in south-central
Kazakstan and the Ertis River in the northeast, have a total of
4,000 kilometers of waterway navigable by commercial craft. A
state agency, the Kazakstan River Fleet Industrial Association
(Kazrechmorflot), administers river traffic. In 1992 the association's
eleven water transport companies carried about 1.6 million passengers
and about 7 million tons of freight.
Data as of March 1996