ADB to back 11 road, railway projects for regional link

Posted by BankInfo on Fri, Feb 11 2011 08:06 pm

The Asian Development Bank in a major move has urged Bangladesh to upgrade cross-border connectivity to set up regional link as it proposed support to 11 road and railway projects, officials said. Finance ministry officials said the Manila-based multilateral lender has assured the country of providing US$12 million funds for conducting study and preparing designs of the projects hinting at further support for the development works. "Implementing agencies are now preparing project proposals for 11 proposed schemes. After getting planning ministry's endorsement, an aid deal with the ADB will be signed," a senior Economic Relations Division official told the reporter.

He said we have already completed negotiations with the ADB for their proposed $12 million funds. The ADB has proposed to construct a railway bridge parallel to the existing Jamuna Bridge, a railway track on Dhaka-Padma Bridge-Bhanga-Jessore route, reconstruct Hardinge Railway Bridge at Pakshi, a railway link from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar and from Ramu to Gundum near Myanmar border. Besides, the multilateral donor has also assured Bangladesh of bankrolling feasibility study for constructing Phulchhari-Bahadurabad railway bridge on Jamuna River and renovation of the signalling system between Iswardi and Parbatipur railway line.

The lender has also proposed government to upgrade and construct six road links which will play a key role to establish regional links and boost the cross-border trades. The ADB will bankroll renovation works for Sonamasjid-Rajshahi-Jamuna Bridge road, Burimari-Rangpur road, Tamabil-Sylhet-Dhaka road, Chittagong-Cox's Bazar-Teknaf road for establishing cross-border communications. Besides, the Asia-Pacific lender will support the preparation of the designs for upgrading Phulbari-Banglabandha-Hatikamrul road, Benapole-Jessore-Magura-Doulatdia-Paturia-Darkhar-Akhaura road and Akhaura-Darkhar-Comilla-Chittagong road to facilitate the regional connectivity.

The ERD official said as the government is now laying more focus on establishing regional connectivity, those schemes will help to set up regional transport facilities. Experts said trade volume in the South Asian region is still very negligible compared to that with other regions in the world due to absence of good communication systems. Within the South Asia region, Nepal trades almost 35 per cent of its overall international trade compared to 10 per cent of Sri Lanka and 5 per cent of Bangladesh. The picture is embarrassingly low in case of the two big economies - India and Pakistan - which have a share of less than 3.0 per cent each of their international trade with the regional member countries. A senior planning ministry official said the government's road and railway developers have been preparing the project proposals for the ADB suggested schemes. "After getting those proposals, we will review for giving endorsement," he said.

The Bangladesh government has already discussed with India, Nepal and Bhutan for establishing transport connections for boosting trade among themselves. The Indian government has already confirmed one billion US dollar credit for the Bangladesh government to develop infrastructures for facilitating transit and transshipment to Delhi. Bangladesh has undertaken nearly 20 projects by the Indian credit, most of which are being implemented to upgrade the transportation systems between the two countries. India will be allowed to carry its products through Bangladesh territory to its impoverished north-eastern seven states. Besides, the Chittagong and Mongla sea ports will also be opened for India, Nepal and Bhutan for transporting products.

News: The Financial Express/Bangladesh/12 Feb 2011

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