The World Bank today approved $425 million to improve road connections in Bangladesh through building, maintaining and improving rural bridges in a program that will benefit two-thirds of the country’s people.
The Operation For Supporting Rural Bridges Program will maintain 85,000 meters of bridges, widen or rehabilitate 29,000 meters of bridges and build another 20,000 meters of new bridges. The program will also create jobs for local people by generating about 5.5 million person-days of employment, including long-term maintenance work. The program will support the government’s existing program for developing and maintaining rural bridges.
“By bridging the missing links in Bangladesh’s rural road network, the program will enable rural communities living in remote areas to have better road connections,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. “This will help millions of rural people access markets, hospitals, and schools as well as create new opportunities for livelihoods.”
Bangladesh has a higher road density—that is the ratio of the total road length to the country’s land area—than any other South Asian country, including India and Sri Lanka. As Bangladesh’s flat terrain is crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, bridges play a critical part in the country’s road system. For every 4.5 km of roads in unions or upazilas, a bridge is needed to connect two disjointed road sections. While Bangladesh enjoys an extensive rural road network, one-fifth of the rural bridges needed are not built yet. This project will build, widen, and maintain rural bridges in 61 districts. In 19 coastal districts, the project will construct or rebuild bridges to include climate resilient features.
“The program will support government efforts to improve institutional capacity to plan, design, quality control and manage rural bridges, including to ensure they are climate resilient along coastal areas,” said Farhad Ahmed, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and Team Leader for the program. “The program will promote citizen’s participation, including women, to ensure construction quality and will develop a mobile phone-based application for citizens to report quality issues.”
The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has 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 $29 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country. Bangladesh currently has the largest IDA -program totaling $11.3 billion.