ADB to give $300m to help upgrade trade corridor
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide Bangladesh with a loan of $300 million to help upgrade the Dhaka-Northwest international trade corridor to boost regional business.
Kazi Shofiqul Azam, secretary of the Economic Relations Division, and Manmohan Parkash, country director of ADB, signed the loan agreement at the ERD conference centre in Dhaka yesterday.
The assistance forms the first tranche of a $1.2 billion multi-tranche ADB loan for the Second SASEC Northwest Corridor Road Project, according to a statement of the Manila-based donor. “This project will help boost trade along the second busiest road artery in the country, and further strengthen regional connectivity,” said Parkash.
“This will also help bring down transport costs, make the sector more competitive and make transportation between Dhaka and north-western Bangladesh more efficient.”
ADB has been supporting the government in improving the Dhaka-Northwest road corridor since approval of the landmark Jamuna Bridge Project in 1994.
The first SASEC Northwest Corridor Road Project was approved in 2012 to improve a 70-kilometre Joydebpur-Elenga section of the road.
It also improved operational efficiency of Burimari and Benapole land ports, which provide gateways to Bhutan and India respectively.
The second project continues providing ADB's support to the corridor by improving a 190-km section from Elenga through Hatikurul to Rangpur.
Road operation and management in the Roads and Highways Department will also be strengthened.
There will be further work on issues such as road safety and gender responsive features to make the highway user-friendly to women.
Studies have shown that women particularly use the route on foot or slow-moving vehicles such as rickshaws, so the project will include footbridges, footpaths and dedicated lanes for slow-moving traffic.
Transport infrastructure is the centrepiece of the ADB-supported South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (Sasec) programme, which promotes regional prosperity.
Since 2001, Sasec members have invested over $9.17 billion in projects with a regional dimension, including 31 transport projects worth $7.3 billion.
Road travel accounts for 70 percent of all passenger traffic and 60 percent of freight in Bangladesh, where traffic has been growing at a rate of 8 percent a year.
Accompanying the assistance package is an ADB technical assistance grant of $2 million to support the government in updating its Road Master Plan and enhancing planning and monitoring activities associated with roads.
The grant will be carried out from January 2018 to December 2023.