Kathmandu, September 27 The World Bank (WB) today approved a $133 million credit to help Nepal construct and maintain safe, resilient and cost-effective bridges on its Strategic Roads Network. The Strategic Roads Network comprises Nepal’s transport backbone and includes roughly 12,142 kilometres of national highways, feeder roads and other roads of national importance that are connected by 1,773 bridges. The Second Bridges Improvement and Maintenance Programme (BIMP II) takes aim at ensuring that Nepal government’s bridge development efforts can support the connectivity required for economic growth and development across the country’s provinces, as per the statement issued by the World Bank Group. “New initiatives under BIMP II include support to improve bridge resilience and enhance inclusion of non-motorised transport modes using advanced technical designs.” The statement further reads that credit is targeted to provide support to approximately 477 bridges in Nepal in various ways. This includes maintenance support for around 90 bridges and upgrading road safety measures on approximately 180 existing bridges to help reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities on Nepal’s roads. The programme will also support construction, rehabilitation or replacement of around 80 new two-lane bridges and 35 four-lane bridges. In addition, it will help Department of Roads to complete construction of 92 bridges that are vital to improving connectivity and access throughout Nepal, as per statement. “Nepal needs a strong bridge network and even stronger institutions to manage and develop that network in the future. BIMP II aims at supporting both the network’s physical development as well as the government systems that manage it,” the statement has quoted Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank country manager for Nepal, as saying. “We hope that the improvement of bridges in the most crucial road network of the country will lead to increased and easier access for all the people in Nepal, while reducing the cost and time of transport and trade,” he added. The predecessor to BIMP II (that is, BIMP I) was one of the first two operations globally to use the Programme for Results (P4R) financing instrument that links disbursement of funds directly to delivery of verifiable results, reads the statement. “The current operation builds on this experience and uses a ‘hybrid’ design that also combines results-based disbursement with a component of traditional financing to capture the benefits of both approaches. The combination of instruments provides a wider breadth of tools to ensure that government systems will be strengthened throughout implementation.” “The operation also has a strong focus on climate resilience, gender inclusion, and innovative technologies,” statement has quoted Dominic Pasquale Patella, senior transport specialist at World Bank and co-task team leader of operation, as saying. “For example, it includes an initiative for the advancement of female engineers and the establishment of a new design and advanced technology cell within Department of Roads to manage the uptake of new technologies for bridge development.”