ADB okays $186m loan to upgrade key road sections
- Post Report, Kathmandu
Dec 2, 2016- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $186.80-million loan to upgrade 160 km of the strategic road network and improve domestic and regional transport connectivity in the country. The total cost of the project is $256.50 million, with the government contributing $69.70 million. The estimated completion date is early 2022. “This project supports the government’s plans to further develop Nepal’s infrastructure and connectivity within and outside the country,” Lee Ming Tai, senior transport specialist at the ADB’s South Asia Regional Department, said. “These road improvements will help 673,000 people in the Tarai area have better access to schools, hospitals, jobs as well as local and international markets.”Roads carry about 90 percent of the overall passenger and goods traffic in Nepal. But the landlocked country also has the lowest road density in South Asia with only 14 km of road per 100 sq km and 0.90 km per 1,000 people. This poor connectivity increases transport costs, limits people’s access to jobs and social services, impedes trade with neighbouring countries, and undermines the development of competitive industries in Nepal, including high-value agriculture, agro-processing and manufacturing.
The project will upgrade a section of the strategic East-West Highway, the main arterial road cutting across the entire length of the country in the southern Tarai area, and a key feeder road. These critical sections are the 115-km road network running from Narayanghat to Butwal, and the 45-km feeder road from Bhairahawa to Taulihawa. The road improvements will also incorporate flood control and drainage designs in anticipation of more frequent and intense rainfalls in the area as a result of climate change. The project will contribute to the ADB’s commitment to increase climate finance by approximately $66.5 million. The project roads are located in Nepal’s tropical climate zone which experiences heavy rainfall from June to September. Road safety is a key element of the project as road traffic accidents in the country continue to rise due to an increase in vehicle numbers and poor road conditions. The new road sections will have service lanes to segregate slow-moving local traffic from fast-moving through traffic, pedestrian-friendly features like walkways on both sides of the roads in settlement areas, pedestrian crossings and road accident emergency response systems at critical locations. The project will include a five-year performance-based maintenance clause in the contracts with the view of tapping the private sector for maintenance contracts in the future. In this regard, the
ADB is providing separate technical assistance to the Department of Roads, the project’s implementing agency, to modernize road asset management and support the implementation of performance-based maintenance contracts. The ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, the ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members, 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totalled $27.2 billion, including co-financing of $10.7 billion.