ADB signs $23m for transport projects
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $23 million technical assistance loan to Bangladesh to expedite the implementation of prioritised sub-regional transport projects.
"Projects prepared under this facility will support economic growth and reduce poverty in Bangladesh, as well as strengthen cross-border links to stimulate more intra-regional trade and investment," Hiroaki Yamaguchi, principal transport specialist for ADB's South Asia Department, said in a statement yesterday.
ADB said Bangladesh has the potential of becoming a major transport and transhipment hub, as it borders India and Myanmar and is geographically close to Bhutan, Nepal and Kunming in China.
ADB said it would help Bangladesh roll out planned transport projects to accelerate growth and stimulate economic activity across South Asia and beyond.
South Asia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world but internal trade here remains well below the levels seen in other parts of Asia, because the region's inadequate transport infrastructure remains a major stumbling block, it added.
In the past, transport projects in Bangladesh faced start-up delays because of a long time-lag between loan approval and the final project design, ADB said.
The facility will address obstacles to speedy implementation by supporting feasibility studies, design preparation, procurement, social and environmental safeguards and capacity building for oversight agencies.
"These measures will accelerate the start of physical work following loan approval by at least a year, compared with projects processed under conventional procedures," said Yamaguchi.
Road projects marked for assistance include cross-border routes identified by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation's Regional Multi-modal Transport Study.
The facility will help prepare projects that cover around 300 kilometres of roadworks up for tender in 2012 and up to 1,700 kilometres by the end of 2013. The rail component will also focus on priority projects along the sub-regional transport routes.
The Roads and Highways Department and Bangladesh Railway will be the executing agencies for the projects due to be completed by June 2013.