Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday signed an agreement for a $140-million loan to improve road network and enhance road safety and maintenance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The agreement was signed by Economic Affairs Division Secretary In-charge Syed Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani and ADB Country Director Xiaohong Yang. It was inked three months after approval from the ADB board of directors.
The K-P Provincial Roads Improvement Project will rehabilitate eight key road sections with total length of 214 kilometres with higher road safety and climate resilience standards to ensure uninterrupted flow of people and goods within the province, according to a statement issued by the local office of the Manila-based lending agency.
The $164-million project, in which the government of Pakistan will contribute $24 million, is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. This is for the first time that the provincial road project will implement two pilot performance-based maintenance contracts covering about 104km of roads, said the ADB.
Under the contracts for maintenance and operations of road assets, the role of a contractor is changed from a project executor to a road asset manager. This will strengthen the role of the provincial highways department.
Pakhtunkhwa Highways Authority (PKHA) intends to rehabilitate part of its highway network under this project to improve the performance of roads and achieve higher service levels in the province. With the rehabilitation of these roads, the overall maintenance cost will go down significantly.
Owing to the proposed interventions, these 214km of roads will require only periodic maintenance after five to six years and resultantly the maintenance burden on the provincial road authority will come down in forthcoming years.
The rehabilitation of these roads, in accordance with the proposed programme, will not only enhance their capacity, but will also result in improved service delivery, it added.
Speaking on the occasion, Jilani appreciated the ADB’s support for improving infrastructure and urban services in Pakistan. He reiterated that the government of Pakistan is committed to improving regional connectivity by improving physical infrastructure and economic activities.
Provincial roads of K-P will enhance economic mobility of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Corridor, he added.
The project initially covered 11 roads with an estimated length of 305km, but after preparing the design, the length was reduced to 293.6km. Three roads with total length of 85.5km were later excluded from the list for economic and financial reasons.
The roads that will be improved include the Shah Alam-Sardaryab section covering 11.77km, Khair Abad-Kahi (Nizampur) section of 23.14km, Umerzai-Harichand-Shergarh section of 29km, Risalpur to Jehangira via Pir Sabaq-Misri Banda with link to Akora Khattak and Mardan Ring Road via Motorway Wali Interchange covering 37km, Jhandai-Sang-e-Marmar section (Mardan) of 33.4km, Adina-Yar Hussain-Lahore Road covering 24.37km, Haripur-Hattar-Taxila section of 22km and Maqsood-Kohala section of 33.5km.
Meanwhile, new ADB Director General Central and West Asia Department Werner Liepach is scheduled to visit Pakistan this week. He is planned to have meetings with financial-sector representatives in Karachi.
In Islamabad, Liepach would hold meetings with key government ministers, who are expected to take up the issue of ADB’s budgetary support for Pakistan.
The ADB has already delayed approval of $200-million loan for the energy sector. Liepach would also hold meetings to review the possibilities of mobilising private-sector investment and the status of Pakistan Development Fund Company.