MANILA, 31st March, 2016 (WAM) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a project loan of nearly $197 million to continue rebuilding highways and bridges damaged in Pakistan’s worst-ever floods in 2010.
The funds will also be used to train staff in disaster management units at the National Highway Authority (NHA), giving them the ability to respond more quickly and effectively to natural disasters which have been growing in frequency and severity in recent years,ADB said in a press release.
“Along with the terrible loss of lives and property, the 2010 floods destroyed or damaged the road network in 80 of 110 districts across the country, leaving communities isolated from markets and vital services, with severe consequences for peoples’ livelihoods and well-being,” said Zaigham Naqvi, ADB’s project officer for transport in the Central and West Asia Department. “ADB has been helping Pakistan rebuild its infrastructure since the floods, and this assistance will complete work on highways earmarked for rehabilitation, supporting the economic and social recovery of communities in affected areas.”
Roads are the key mode of transport in Pakistan, accounting for more than 90% of passenger travel and freight movements, and the sector as a whole makes up about 10% of the economy and provides about 2.3 million jobs.
The funds will be used to repair and rehabilitate a number of sections of road over 200 kilometers of the national highway network, as well as 33 bridges. This will improve transport links both for local communities and other travellers along the route, who currently have to endure temporary bridges and other makeshift measures to travel.
ADB has supported road improvements in Pakistan for several decades, with a strong focus since 2005 on economic corridor routes, which aim to boost trade, investment and tourism flows both internally, and with neighboring countries. It has also supported wide-ranging reforms, allowing the NHA to establish a road maintenance fund and a road asset management system, as well as take steps to improve road safety.
The project, which includes counterpart assistance of $21.9 million from the Government of Pakistan, will run for about 4 years with an estimated completion date of September 2020.