ADB loan for Afghanistan's road network

By Richard High03 December 2008

In an effort to boost economic development in Afghanistan the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to grant US$ 400 million under a multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) to help expand the country's road network.

The money will be used to construct about 2900 km of national roads and repair and maintain 1500 km of existing paved roads under the country's 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.

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 neighbouring 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 roads, such as rehabilitation or construction of village access road, footpaths, and footbridges.

Schools and medical clinics in those areas where roads will be constructed or rehabilitated will also be built.

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.

To date the ADB has financed the improvement of nearly 1100 km of regional and national roads in Afghanistan, mainly in the north and northwest part of the country.

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