KATHMANDU, June 29: The World Bank (WB) on Wednesday approved funding of US $275 million to Nepal to upgrade the 69 km two-lane section of Butwal—Gorusinghe—Chanauta road along the East-West Highway.
The multilateral lending institution is providing the aforementioned amount under the first phase of its Accelerating Transport and Trade Connectivity in Eastern South Asia (ACCESS) Program. Under the program, the road section will be developed to a climate-resilient four-lane highway, with a focus on ensuring better road safety.
The WB through its press release stated that the enhancement of the road segment is expected to reduce travel time by 30 percent, thus providing better access to India’s western seaports. The project will construct at least three market areas along the highway with dedicated areas for women entrepreneurs and traders to ensure that women can benefit from the enhanced economic opportunities.
The market areas will be equipped with separate toilets for women, free Wi-Fi, and digital bulletin boards with timely trade and market information. It will also support capacity building to enhance trade and customs processes at Birgunj and Bhairahawa border points. The project will also help advance Nepal’s preparedness and subsequent implementation of the Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA).
Speaking at a program, Faris Hadad-Zervos, the WB Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka said Nepal has a large untapped potential for regional trade and exports, but low regional trade is often a result of the high cost of connectivity. “The project will help unlock Nepal’s economic potential through better connectivity and trade, both between the provinces as well as regionally among Nepal and other countries to support a green, resilient, and inclusive development,” he said.
Apart from Nepal, the WB has also approved a fund of $753.45 million to Bangladesh under the package of financing $1.03 billion under the ACCESS program. The fund is expected to help improve regional trade in Bangladesh and Nepal by reducing trade and transport costs and transit time along the regional corridors.