ISLAMABAD: In order to continue revitalizing and modernizing Pakistan’s highway system, a credit worth $130 million has been approved by the World Bank (WB) in additional financing for the Pakistan Highway Rehabilitation Project. According to a private television channel, the project will further create a productive and efficient highway network, lowering transportation bottlenecks and costs, particularly crucial in light of tremendous damage caused by the recent floods.
The project consists of three components:
1. rehabilitating 514 km of highways,
2. resurfacing 342 km of highways, and
3. reconstructing 128 km of damaged roads that provide vital access to remote and disaster-prone communities.
Additionally, the project also reinforces resource allocation, road maintenance, and strengthens the National Highway Authority’s (NHA) capacity. This will complement Pakistan’s development goals especially with rising per capita income and improving social indicators.
“Improvements in basic infrastructure including highways are critical to improving human development outcomes”, said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “With growth, there has been an increase in demand for better infrastructure. However, Pakistan’s infrastructure platform needs significant investment in order to support Pakistan’s growth and service delivery goals.
The Pakistan Highway Rehabilitation Project was initially approved in 2003 and has demonstrated transformative results with 884 km of roads having been improved. Stretches in poor condition have been reduced by 20%, travel time between Peshawar and Karachi has been reduced by 9%, and road fatalities also have reduced by a notable 44%.
“This continues to be a very important project,” said Zafar I. Raja, Project Team Leader. “We are committed to continually improving the three impact indicators –
1. reduction in average vehicle operating costs;
2. reduction in travel time; and
3. improvement in road safety.”
The WB has a long history of partnership and collaboration with Pakistan and has continued its support for a variety of infrastructure projects including improvements of ports and barrages besides improving facilitation of trade and transport. The additional financing route was chosen to ensure fast processing of funds for the flood-affected communities. Of the $130.0 million, $20.0 million is part of the billion-dollar floods package announced by the WB.
The credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary arm, have 40 years to maturity with a 10-year grace period; they carry a service charge of 0.75 percent.-SANA