Government, World Bank sign $450 million road support project in Nepal
The Nepal government and the World Bank signed a $450 million (around Rs 54 billion) financing agreement that will help Nepal improve the efficiency and safety of transport infrastructure, improve efficiency of crossborder trade, and strengthen capacity for strategic road network management.
This is the single largest value project that the Nepal government has signed with the World Bank, as per a media release.
The agreement was signed by Finance Secretary Sishir Kumar Dhungana on behalf of the Nepal government and the World Bank Country Director for Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka Faris Hadad-Zervos in the presence of Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada.
“This important project will enhance connectivity and country integration along with cross-border markets to support post-COVID-19 recovery,” Finance Minister Khatiwada has been quoted as saying. “Connectivity is high on the rapid and sustainable development agenda of Nepal. Sustainable transport and sustainable, inclusive and high-quality infrastructure are of cross cutting importance for accelerating economic growth, national and regional economic integration and attaining the sustainable development goals.”
Dhungana said, “We are also looking forward to this project to introduce and demonstrate best practices in several key areas ranging from safety and climate resilience to road asset management and citizen engagement, and hoping to replicate them at the federal, provincial and local levels of the government.”
The government is working on a 3R — Relief, Recovery and Resilience — strategy to help Nepal build back better from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. This project will be critical for boosting economic possibilities and enhancing trade facilitation to speed up recovery and resilience.
The Strategic Road Connectivity and Trade Improvement Project supports Nepal’s connectivity and trade with neighbouring countries, including India. It will improve the Nagdhunga-Naubise-Mugling road and upgrade the Kamala-Dhalkebar-Pathlaiya road to four-lane. The project will also enhance infrastructure, facilities and sanitation at border crossing points to ease trade constraints and spur agricultural exports.
Amid the pandemic, the project will also support better screening of goods and people at border facilities, and develop guidance for special working arrangements, such as safe distancing and remote working.
“This project supports the government’s efforts to put Nepal on the path to economic recovery amid the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. It will help facilitate regional trade and connectivity and create jobs while ensuring safety and efficiency of the strategic roads network,” stated Hadad-Zervos.
The project will also support institutional strengthening of the National Road Safety Council and the Department of Roads, and periodic maintenance of high-traffic roads within the Strategic Road Network.
A contingency emergency response component is also included in the project to reallocate project funds to support emergency response and recovery.