MANILA: A $400 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) approved by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will contribute to the Afghan Government’s plan to construct about 2,900 kilometers of national roads and repair and maintain 1,500 kilometers of existing paved roads. The MFF, delivered in grant form, will contribute to the Road Network Development Investment Program, which is part of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) the government’s strategic platform for development for 2008 – 2020.
ANDS places a high priority on the establishment of better planning and project management, greater transparency and efficiency in the way contracts are awarded and handled, and stricter fiduciary oversight. This will partly be achieved by the creation of a new agency to oversee Afghanistan’s roads.
Roads are essential to Afghanistan’s economic development. The country has a challenging terrain and a widely-scattered population. As a landlocked country, it depends on roads for trade with neighboring countries.
An improved and expanded road network will raise inter-city travel speed, create better conditions for inter-city freight and passenger services, cut operating costs, develop a more secure road travel system, and make road transport more attractive, safe, and timely for people and goods. This will benefit the Afghan economy, creating jobs, and bringing investment to regional and rural areas. Roads can also contribute to stability and security in remote parts of the country.
One special feature of the overall investment program is the inclusion of small but vital works, such as rehabilitation or construction of village access road, footpaths, and footbridges. Schools and medical clinics in the road construction areas will also be built.
“More than 40% of ADB’s lending to Afghanistan so far has gone into transport development,” said Juan Miranda, Director General of ADB’s Central and West Asia Department. “We recognize the vital importance of this contribution to rebuilding Afghanistan and its roads, which have suffered from neglect due to other priorities. The value of roads to the economy can only be sustained with improved links, new roads, and a continuing repair and maintenance system. We are aiming for that goal with this investment program.”
ADB has, to date, financed the improvement of nearly 1,100 kilometers of regional and national roads in Afghanistan, mainly in the north and northwest part of the country.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2007, it approved $10.1 billion of loans, $673 million of grant projects, and technical assistance amounting to $243 million.-SANA