NUR-SULTAN/ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Rows of bare concrete pillars stretch for kilometers along the main road of the Kazakh capital. The columns are meant to support a commuter rail line, designed to modernize the city's public transportation and ease chronic congestion. But on a recent weekday, there were no signs of workers or equipment.
The project was one of several launched during a building spree ahead of an international expo in 2017, which brought delegates from more than 100 countries. The symbols of progress have since become stark reminders of the challenges of development: Besides the unfinished rail line, the construction of the country's tallest skyscraper is under review after a string of accidents, and a futuristic financial center has failed to attract businesses.