The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of $235 million to upgrade a national highway in Pakistan that is crucial to regional connectivity and strengthening the government’s operation and maintenance of the national highways network.
The project will expand the 222-km long Shikarpur–Rajanpur section of the National Highway 55 (N55) from two lanes into a four-lane carriageway, according to a statement by the ADB.
The N55 is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 5 that links the Karachi and Gwadar ports in south Pakistan to national and international economic centers in the north.
The ADB’s Transport Specialist, Rika Idei said, “This project will increase the capacity of a busy highway section that passes through populous economic centers in Sindh and Punjab provinces”.
“The project addresses key road safety, climate resilience, and gender-specific. It needs to ensure that users can travel safely, smoothly, and comfortably. This will facilitate the regional movement of goods and the people, and support Pakistan’s economic recovery from COVID-19,” Idei added.
The project includes the construction of bus stops, emergency response centers, and traffic police facilities to ensure the enforcement of road safety and efficient post-crash responses. The bus stops and emergency response centers will have gender-separated facilities and rest spaces for various users such as women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
Additionally, the project will strengthen the National Highway Authority’s (NHA) capacity by supporting a five-year training program that was prepared with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development. This training program will cover road project operations, maintenance, design, and gender concerns, and will be conducted between 2021 to 2025.
The loan is the second tranche of a multi-tranche financing facility designed to provide technical and financial assistance to upgrade the N55 and enhance the NHA’s capacity. The first tranche of $180 million was approved in September 2017 and financed the improvement of three sections totaling 143 km in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan is a member of the CAREC Program — a partnership of 11 countries for the promotion of economic growth and sustainable development through regional cooperation. It is supported by development partners, including the ADB that serves as the secretariat for the CAREC Program.