Kathmandu, December 1
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $186.80 million loan to upgrade 160 kilometres of Nepal’s strategic road network and improve the country’s domestic and regional transport connectivity.
“This project supports government’s plans to further develop Nepal’s infrastructure and connectivity within and outside the country,” Lee Ming Tai, senior transport specialist at ADB’s South Asia Regional Department, has been quoted as saying in a media release issued today. “These improvements will help 673,000 people in Tarai have better access to schools, hospitals, jobs, and local and international markets.”
Roads carry about 90 per cent of overall passenger and goods in country. But the land-locked nation also has the lowest road density among South Asian countries with only 14 km of road per 100 square 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 strategic East-West highway — main arterial road cutting across the entire width 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 ADB’s commitment to increase climate finance by approximately $66.5 million, says the release.
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 private sector for maintenance contracts in the future. In this regard, ADB is providing a separate technical assistance to Department of Roads, the project’s implementing agency, to modernise road asset management and support implementation of performance-based maintenance contracts.
The total cost of the project is $256.50 million, with the government contributing $69.70 million. The estimated completion date is in early 2022.
A version of this article appears in print on December 02, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.