Update December 5, 2018

Dhaka 7-57 am, 04-August, 2020

Deals on Thursday for $525m WB fund to improve rural roads

Mirajul Moin Joy

The World Bank will provide a total of $525 million to Bangladesh under two agreements, to be sighed on Thursday, to improve the rural road transport system.

Out of the total financing, the Washington-based lending agency will provide $425 million for “Operation for Supporting Rural Bridges (SupRB)” and $100 million for “Second Rural Transport Improvement Project”.

“The agreements on these two schemes will be signed on Thursday at 3:00 pm at the NEC Conference Room 2 in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area,” said an Economic Relations Division (ERD) official.

The official told BSS that ERD Additional Secretary Mahmuda Begum and World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan will sign the agreements on behalf of the government of Bangladesh and the World Bank respectively.

According to the World Bank and the ERD, the $425 million assistance will be utilized to improve road connections in Bangladesh through building, maintaining and improving rural bridges in a program that will benefit two-thirds of the country’s people.

The Operation for Supporting Rural Bridges Program will maintain 85,000 meters of bridges, widen or rehabilitate 29,000 meters of bridges and build another 20,000 meters of new bridges.

The program will also create jobs for the local people by generating about 5.5 million person-days of employment, including long-term maintenance work. The program will support the government’s existing program for developing and maintaining rural bridges.

Bangladesh has a higher road density – that is the ratio of the total road length to the country’s land area – than any other South Asian country, including India and Sri Lanka.

As Bangladesh’s flat terrain is crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, bridges play a critical part in the country’s road system. For every 4.5 km of roads in unions or upazilas, a bridge is needed to connect two disjointed road sections.

Under the programme, rural bridges will be built, widened, and maintained in 61 districts. In 19 coastal districts, the project will construct or rebuild bridges to include climate resilient features.

The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.

Meanwhile, the $100 million additional financing for the ‘Second Rural Transport Improvement Project’ has a maturity of 30 years including grace period of five years.

The Second Bangladesh Rural Transport Improvement Project (RTIP II) provides rural communities with improved access to social services and economic opportunity.

It also builds the capacity of government institutions to better manage rural transport infrastructure. This additional financing will help scale up activities in 26 districts with the aim for enhancing development impact and providing climate-resilient rehabilitation for 1,433 km of Upazila and Union roads damaged from last year’s heavy rainfall and floods.

In addition, road safety program will be further implemented to improve the overall safety in rural roads.

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