The government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday signed two agreements for the improvement of country's road and rail networks.
The $100 million agreement of concessional loan was signed to expand the coverage of an ongoing rural road network improvement project, connecting the rural population to agricultural land, markets and services.
Another $42 million agreement in concessional loan was signed for a project to prepare road and railway sector projects to promote multi-modal transport, and connectivity.
Fatima Yasmin, secretary to the Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Manmohan Parkash, country director of ADB, remotely signed the loan agreements, said an ADB press release.
Talking about the first agreement, Parkash said, "The project will contribute to the government's efforts for faster socio-economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic."
"The expanded project will benefit around 90 million inhabitants in 34 districts with access to better health services, education, employment opportunities, markets and other government services," he said.
"In addition to generating 1.73 million person-days of employment through infrastructure spending, the additional financing will also widen the opportunities for women and children to have easier and safer access to education, emergency health services, and other essential social services in any weather condition," he added.
This additional financing will scale up the current road network development, under the Rural Connectivity Improvement Project, from 1,700km to 2,630km of rural roads. It will build on the $200 million financial package approved in 2018 aimed at upgrading rural roads in 34 districts to all-weather standards with climate resilience and safety features. The expanded project will benefit around 92 million people, read the press release.
About second agreement, the ADB country director said, "Bangladesh needs to boost connectivity between different transport modes, strengthen multi-modal and arterial transport corridors, as well as construct bypass and connecting roads to promote domestic and international trade."
Given the impact of Covid-19, improving transport connectivity is critical for ensuring robust local and global supply chain.
Highlighting the opportunities that such projects would offer for the private sector, Parkash noted that multi-modal transport can accelerate economic activities including international trade. "It will also help accelerate economic activities by reducing transportation costs and time, and increasing competitiveness, and efficiency," Parkash said.