Bangladesh yesterday signed two loan agreements with the Asian Development Bank: $10 million to build an expressway between Dhaka and Chittagong and $185 million to boost the nation's power supply.
The expressway, the first project in the country's transport sector to boost trade and ease congestion in the existing highway linking the two cities, will be developed under a public-private partnership, the ADB said in a statement.
The new expressway will provide an alternative to the existing 250-kilometre Dhaka-Chittagong highway, which has become congested like other major road networks in the country. The country's roads carry more than 70 percent of passengers and 60 percent of freight, and is expected to rise 6.4 percent a year up to 2015, the statement said.
The expressway will also be part of the Asian Highway network of 141,000 kilometres through Asia, linking Asia to Europe, the statement added.
The expressway will be part of government efforts to tap the private sector to finance costly infrastructure. Under its Sixth Five-Year plan (2011-15), Bangladesh aims to triple investments in infrastructure from 2 percent to 6 percent of gross domestic product through private sources of funds.
Saifuddin Ahmed, joint secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Stefan Ekelund, deputy country director of ADB's Bangladesh Resident Mission, signed the deal at ERD in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka.
In another statement, ADB said the $185 million assistance is the first tranche of ADB financing under an overall multi-donor-supported project, Power System Expansion and Efficiency Improvement Investment Programme of $1.6 billion, with ADB contributing $700 million.
The deal will help reduce outages and shortages that are crippling the economy and causing hardship across the country.