The FINANCIAL — The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a $300 million loan to finance the construction of a four-lane, 12-kilometer (km) road on the East–West Highway (EWH) between Khevi and Ubisa in Georgia.
The EWH, an integral part of one of the six key corridors connecting member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), currently carries about 60% of Georgia’s foreign trade despite representing only about 2% of the country’s entire road network length. The 410-km highway, which serves about 13,000 vehicles per day with a traffic growth rate of over 10% annually since 2005, is not only crucial for the connectivity of international trade between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, but also essential for Georgia’s global market access and socioeconomic development.
Apart from constructing the 12 km, four-lane road, mainly on a new alignment, the East–West Highway (Khevi–Ubisa Section) Improvement Project will also enhance road safety in the area through awareness campaigns targeting at least 70% of the local population, 40% of whom will be women. This is an integral element of the project given that about 20% of all road crashes in Georgia, which cost 1% to 2% of gross domestic product, happen on the EWH. Relevant officials and other stakeholders will also be trained to ensure the operations and maintenance of the road infrastructure.
The project supports ADB’s ongoing efforts to help the Government of Georgia achieve its objective of upgrading the EWH. In June, the ADB-financed Kobuleti Bypass was opened. In March 2017, ADB approved a $114 million loan, with another $114 million of cofinancing provided by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to construct the Batumi Bypass.
The total cost of the new project is $429.5 million, with the Government of Georgia contributing $129.5 million. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2024.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.