Deals signed for $525m World Bank assistance

Bangladesh today signed two financing agreements totaling $525 million with the World Bank to improve connectivity and climate resilience through building, maintaining, and improving roads and rural bridges that could benefit more than 100 million people.

Out of the total financing, the Washington-based lending agency will provide $425 million for “Operation for Supporting Rural Bridges (SupRB)” and $100 million for “Second Rural Transport Improvement Project”.

The agreements were signed by Economic Relations Division (ERD) Additional Secretary Mahmuda Begum and World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan on behalf of the government of Bangladesh and the World Bank respectively at the Economic Relations Division.

The $425 million Operation for Supporting Rural Bridges Program will improve connectivity and climate resilience in 19 coastal districts.

It will also support existing efforts by the government to plan, design and manage rural bridges through the rehabilitation of at least 29,000 meters of bridges, and build another 20,000 meters of new bridges in 61 districts across Bangladesh. The program will create jobs by generating about 5.5 million person-days of employment.

The $100 million additional financing to the Second Rural Transport Improvement Project will help support the rehabilitation of 1,433 km of Upazila and Union roads that were damaged by the floods and heavy rainfall of 2017, and the maintenance of almost 6,000 km of rural roads in 26 districts.

The project will also promote community road safety campaigns and road safety measures for public and private transport users in light of increasingly heavy traffic on rural roads.

ERD Additional Secretary Mahmuda Begum said the 7th Five-Year Plan includes a vision for development of rural infrastructure as one of its priority areas. “Both projects will contribute to greater connectivity for rural communities and boosting growth.”

Qimiao Fan said that rural bridges play a key role in Bangladesh’s development, and an efficient rural road network can have a big effect in improving rural livelihoods.

“By enabling greater connectivity, these two projects will help rural communities gain safer access to schools, health facilities and markets, reduce transport costs, increase non-agriculture incomes, and expand employment for both women and men,” he added.

The respective credits from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) have a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.

The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. The World Bank has since committed more than $30 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country. Bangladesh currently has the largest IDA program totaling $11.7 billion.

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