The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved a $1.78 billion multitranche financing facility (MFF) to improve mobility, road safety, and regional trade along the Dhaka–Sylhet trade corridor in Bangladesh.
The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Dhaka–Sylhet Corridor Road Investment Project will be delivered in four tranches, said the ADB.
It will include 60 km of footpath, 26 footbridges, and 13 overpasses. Its design will have features responsive to the needs of the elderly, women, children, and the differently abled, as well as disaster and climate risks, according to a message received from ADB Headquarters in Manila.
The Bangladesh government will fund $911 million of the total project cost of $2.69 billion.
Apart from the MFF, the ADB will also provide a $1 million technical assistance grant from its Technical Assistance Special Fund and an additional $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction,
financed by the Government of Japan, to support capacity building of the Roads and Highways Department on road safety and maintenance, climate change, and gender equality and social inclusion.
The Dhaka–Sylhet corridor, once completed, will support a new trade route that connects Chattogram port with India’s northeastern states through the three land ports of Akhaura, Sheola, and Tamabil, and from there to Bhutan and Myanmar.
ADB Transport Specialist for South Asia Satomi Sakaguchi said Bangladesh’s export-driven economic growth has shown its unique potential and opportunity of becoming a regional transport and trade hub. To sustain this growth, the country’s transport infrastructure needs to be improved.
“The project road is the main part of Road Corridor No. 5 under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program. Its improvement will reduce logistics costs, increase competitiveness, and help expand regional trade with neighboring South Asian countries, as well as providing safe accessibility to the community members,” he said.
By doing so, Satomi Sakaguchi said, the investment project will contribute to the government’s goal of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.
Transport and trade facilitation are among the priorities of SASEC members, which since 2001, have invested more than $14.3 billion in projects in the region, including 43 transport projects worth $11.4 billion.