ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide project preparation support for schemes aimed at upgrading roads in and improving regional connectivity among Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Project identification and preliminary technical reviews are currently being carried out with either ongoing loan proceeds of the provincial government’s own resources. The federal government has cleared the concept papers for the ensuing projects, which ADB has already included in the Country Operations Business Plan (2020-22) for Pakistan.
Roads to be upgraded in Punjab, Sindh and KP
According to details, the transaction technical assistance facility will provide project preparation support to a series of ensuing projects comprising Punjab provincial highway project; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rural development project; and the second phase of Sindh provincial road improvement project. All projects aim to rehabilitate or upgrade existing provincial roads or rural roads while improving regional connectivity with other provinces.
An ADB document prepared for the project says the technical assistance facility is considered complex, because the loan amount for an ensuing project may exceed $200 million. The technical assistance facility is estimated to cost $1.6m, of which $1.5m will be financed on a grant basis by ADB’s technical assistance special fund.
Despite the high reliance on road transport, the quality and capacity of the road infrastructure severely constrains free and safe traffic flow. While the quality of the national highways has improved considerably from continuous capital spending such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) programme and better road asset management, the overall condition remains below the target to eliminate those roads with condition of poor and very poor — only 11 per cent of national highways are assessed to be in ‘good’ and 67 per cent in ‘fair’ condition. This is partly due to aging road and bridge infrastructure.