Road Rehabilitation Project in Kazakhstan (Loan 1455-KAZ)

Date: December 2005
Type: Evaluation Reports
Country:
Subject:
Evaluation; Transport and ICT
Series: Project Performance Evaluation Reports
Project Number: 28403-013

Description

The Project aimed to reverse the deterioration of the road network in Kazakhstan for the country to realize its economic development potential. The Project would provide for more efficient movement of freight and passengers, strengthen institutional capacity in the road sector, and improve the road sector policy environment.

The largest component of the Project involved rehabilitation of a 192-kilometer section of the country's north-south road corridor. Another component supported maintenance of other sections of the corridor. A further component was to support institutional development and implementation of an agreed agenda for road sector reform and legislative changes.

The rehabilitated road pavement has extensive transverse cracking. This is aesthetically displeasing but the road is performing adequately in terms of traffic handling. Since cracking is common in countries with extreme temperature variations, it need not impair performance or reduce asset life as long as adequate routine maintenance is carried out.

The Project was rated successful and assessed as relevant, less effective, efficient, and likely to be sustainable, with limited institutional and other impacts.

  Summary of findings

  • The road rehabilitation component proved difficult to implement. Implementation arrangements followed international processes and technical standards for which the Executing Agency had no prior experience. These contributed to delays.
  • The immediate causes of the transverse cracking are not well understood but its underlying causes are clearer: unfamiliar implementation arrangements led to the detailed design being less thorough than intended, making it difficult for the Executing Agency, the consultant, and the contractor to use normal contractual mechanisms to address problems that arose during implementation.
  • The evaluation found no evidence that the cracking would require major remedial investment for as long as adequate routine maintenance is provided. However, since pavement deterioration cannot be ruled out, pavement condition needs to be carefully monitored.
  • Average annual daily traffic on the rehabilitated road has increased although traffic growth was slightly slower than appraisal estimates.
  • Economic reevaluation indicates that road rehabilitation has had relatively high economic returns, with an economic internal rate of return of 19.8%. Even in a scenario of sudden pavement deterioration, the original investment would still be justified by the relatively high economic returns already achieved.
  • The road maintenance component was simpler and achieved its intended results. There were no major problems implementing the road maintenance contracts following domestic bidding procedures. The road maintenance equipment procured under the Project has generally performed satisfactorily and continues to be used to maintain the north-south road corridor.
  • The institutional and policy support did not achieve its intended outcome due to lack of Government ownership. The agreed agenda was overly ambitious, and ADB and the Government engaged in too little dialogue during project formulation. The advisory technical assistance was insufficient to bring about change, and its approach focused too much on preparing reports and too little on supporting national change processes.
  • Government performance was satisfactory given Kazakhstan's ongoing transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, and its status as a newly independent country. On the other hand, ADB's performance did not adequately adapt project formulation to fit the country and sector circumstances and ensure government ownership of reform proposals.

  Lessons identified

  • It is difficult to bring about broad changes in policies, processes, and standards. An extended time frame is often required.
  • International systems for road design, construction, and maintenance-as well as policies and institutional features-could not be quickly transferred to Kazakhstan to replace those of the former Soviet Union (FSU). In such circumstances, project design needs to incorporate a more realistic path of change, which may initially require less emphasis on international standards and implementation models, and more emphasis on gradually building familiarity and confidence in international methods.
  • A comprehensive institutional and policy reform agenda requires intense policy dialogue and a high degree of engagement to ensure that the agenda has national ownership and is well supported by ADB during implementation.
  • Rehabilitation of roads using existing embankments, roadbeds, and drainage inherited from the FSU may involve uncertainties that could adversely affect the stability of the road base. In some cases, these may affect the life and economic returns of rehabilitation investments. This should be assessed when preparing new investment projects in FSU countries.

Contents

  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Design and Implementation
  • Performance Assessment
  • Other Assessments
  • Issues, Lessons, and Follow-up Actions
  • Appendixes