The FINANCIAL — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Pakistan signed a $197 million loan to upgrade a national highway in Balochistan province.
Mohammad Saleem Sethi, Pakistan’s Secretary for Economic Affairs and ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan Werner E. Liepach signed the loan agreement during a ceremony attended by ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang.
The project will rehabilitate 79 kilometers of two-lane highway in Zhob-Mughalkot (N50) and another 128 kilometers in Qila Saifullah Waghum (N70), according to ADB.
“Over the past decades, ADB has supported the government’s initiative for equitable provincial development,” said Mr. Zhang. “This project is a step toward boosting economic growth, regional integration, and reducing poverty while bringing substantial social and economic development for people in the Balochistan.”
The highway development project is a continuation of ADB’s support to the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to upgrade important roads in the country’s geographically largest province of Balochistan. The project, being executed by the National Highway Authority, will reduce transport costs, promote inter-provincial connectivity, strengthen road safety, and open up new economic opportunities for local communities through easier access to markets and social services.
Balochistan, located on the intersection of the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia, has the potential to become an important regional trading hub. The province has the lowest density of roads among Pakistan’s four provinces. Poor connectivity and access issues continue to be major challenges affecting the poor who live mostly in rural areas.
The improvement of road infrastructure is expected to help pull poor communities in remote parts of the country out of poverty, and unlock economic prosperity in the region.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.