The FINANCIAL — The World Bank Board of Directors on September 30 approved a EUR 83 million IBRD loan for the Road Upgrading and Development Project in FYR Macedonia. The project aims to improve transport connectivity for road users along Corridor VIII between Skopje and Deve Bair and to improve the asset management and planning function of the Public Enterprise for State Roads.
The improved transport links will contribute to higher living standards of citizens by providing safer, cheaper and more reliable access to other public services. The project will have a positive impact on communities living in the vicinity of the new road and the existing road through stimulation of economic activity in the region and provision of better access to social and economic services, according to the World Bank.
“Investments in transport infrastructure are crucial for FYR Macedonia’s growth,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for South East Europe. “Being a landlocked country, FYR Macedonia needs investment in transport infrastructure to ensure better connectivity to regional markets, and to become a more attractive destination for investors. Better roads are also crucial for local competitiveness and development of tourism.”
The main project component in the amount of EUR 78 million will finance the construction of a new wider two-lane road between Rankovce and Kriva Palanka, which will be 26.64km long. The road design will take into account road safety considerations. The construction will take three years and the road is expected to be opened for traffic at the end of 2019.
“The new roads project will bring direct benefits to road users, as a result of reduction of both vehicle operating costs and travel times costs due to improved road quality,” said Rakesh Tripathi, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and Task Team Leader of the project. “In addition, this project will enhance the capacity of the Public Enterprise for State Roads in bridge asset management, and in the implementation of engineering and construction innovations that would improve road safety and sustainability.”
The upgraded east section of Corridor VIII will contribute to a strengthened country’s integration within the region and with the EU and will facilitate access to new market opportunities. The improved accessibility to the Bulgarian border will have a positive impact on logistics costs and will also bring better and safer connectivity and improve mobility of people and cross-border interaction along the corridor.
This is the third road transport project that the World Bank is financing in the country. The first, Regional and Local Roads Program Support Project, to be completed by the end of 2015, is financing the rehabilitation and upgrading of 284km of regional roads and over 400km of local roads, including rehabilitation of landslide-prone sections of selected roads. The second, National and Regional Road Rehabilitation Project, approved by the Board in September 2014, aims to enhance the connectivity of selected national and regional roads, primarily to Corridor X and VIII.
The Road Upgrading and Development Project is financed with a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) in the amount of EUR 83 million with a final maturity of 28 years including an 8-year grace period.