BD, ADB sign $400m loan deal to develop Elenga-Rangpur highway

FE REPORT | Monday, 16 March 2020

The government of Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Sunday signed a US$ 400 million loan agreement as part of $ 1.2 billion ADB loan commitment to develop a regional corridor in northwestern zone of the country.
The assistance is the second tranche of the ADB's commitment to construct 190-kilometre Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur highway under South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)-II.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Fatima Yasmin and ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash signed the loan agreement on behalf of their respective sides.
The ADB country director said this project is the part of priority international transport corridor that connects Bangladesh with Bhutan, India and Nepal.
After completion of the project, transport costs, travel time, vehicle emission, congestion and accidents would be reduced, he added.
"This project will further strengthen regional connectivity, and boost trade along the second busiest road artery in the country," Manmohan said.
According to the Roads and Highways Department, the executing agency of the Tk 118.99 billion project, the ADB released $ 300 million earlier in the first tranche while rest $ 500 million is expected to be released in next two instalments.
This project is a continuation of the 70-kilometre Joydevpur-Elenga section road development project also funded by ADB since 2012.
The feasibility study and detailed design work of Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur highway were done in 2015 and the progress has so far recorded at 15 per cent.
According to an ADB press release, the project will contribute to achieving Bangladesh's goal of an efficient and modern transport system by widening the 190-km section from Elenga through Hatikumrul to Rangpur into four lanes.
It will improve road safety and adopt gender responsive features by including footbridges, footpaths, and two dedicated lanes for slow moving traffic to make women's travel safer as studies show that women particularly use the route on foot or slow-moving vehicles such as rickshaws, it said.
Road operation and management in the Roads and Highways Department will also be strengthened. Climate resilient design features will be adopted for constructing the road.
ADB has been supporting Bangladesh in improving the Dhaka-Northwest road corridor since approval of the landmark Jamuna Bridge Project in 1994.
Road travel accounts for 70 per cent of all passenger traffic and 60 per cent of freight in Bangladesh with a rate of 8 per cent annual traffic increase.
Since 2001, SASEC members signed and implemented 55 ADB-financed projects with a regional dimension worth more than $12.5 billion, including 36 projects worth $10.23 billion in transport sector.

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