Plans cut through agricultural land

West Baghdad communities demand detour for Development Road project

AL-RADHWANIYA — Residents of Al-Radhwaniya and Al-Duwailiba areas in West Baghdad are monitoring soil examinations as part of the preparations for constructing a new development road and train line that will connect Iraq with Europe. They are concerned that the project will affect their cultivated agricultural lands and are demanding the alteration of the route.

The Development Road project from Al-Faw will pass through Al-Anbar to Abu Ghraib, affecting areas of Al-Duwailiba and Al-Radhwaniya West, and reaching regions near Bab Al-Salam and the outskirts of Al-Nasr Wa Al-Salam. Many farms and houses adjacent to the Sadda will be adversely affected by the new route traversing these properties.

A dispute between a UAE company and the Abu Ghraib administration has halted the 100-meter road project. Residents of West Al-Radhwaniya told 964media, “The companies implementing the development road started soil testing in various locations of Al-Radhwaniya about 10 days ago. We hear that we will not be compensated, and we only own the land. We want to know what is happening in the area and where we will go?”

Awda Abdullah, a representative of Al-Duwailiba’s residents, stated, “The locals work in farming, and as you’ve seen, the land is all cultivated. Some talk about compensation, but compensation doesn’t serve us at all. We demand the diversion of the route and are not objecting to it. We support the economic development of the country, but these lands were reclaimed by us, and now most families’ livelihoods depend on this land.”

An official with knowledge of the plans told 964media, “The route was modified some time ago from Al-Anbar to enter Al-Radhwaniya and Al-Duwailiba, which will be most affected as the new route will pass through it over a distance of 7 kilometers alongside its main road, Al-Sadda. The previous plan was less damaging for Al-Duwailiba, but with the new plan and after modifying the route, several areas will be impacted, with Al-Duwailiba suffering the most.”

The Development Road project is an ambitious $17 billion endeavor aimed at establishing a transport corridor that connects the Persian Gulf with the Mediterranean Sea coast in Turkey. This 1,200-kilometer route, often referred to as the “dry canal project,” is designed to offer a cost-effective alternative to the Suez Canal for the transit of goods. Key components of the project include a railway that links Iraq’s Grand Faw port, which is still under construction, to the Mediterranean. The project plans to incorporate around 15 train stations along its route and is expected to be completed by 2029.

Despite its ambitious goals, some experts have raised concerns about the viability of transferring freight between ships and trains​​. Expanding beyond infrastructure, The Development Road is set to foster urban development by giving rise to at least 10 new residential cities along its course.