MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending a $200 million loan for infrastructure upgrades to improve living conditions and open up new economic opportunities in three strategically vital seaport cities in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China (PRC).
"Improving public facilities will help reverse the current deterioration in the quality of life for many citizens, especially the poor and rural migrants," said Satoshi Ishii, Urban Development Specialist in ADB's East Asia Department. "It will also boost growth and investment in Guangxi which provides a crucial trade and transport gateway between southern and western parts of the PRC and neighboring Southeast Asia."
The ADB Board of Directors approved the loan for the Guangxi Beibu Gulf Cities Development Project which will construct and upgrade roads, waste water, storm water, and sewerage treatment facilities in the cities of Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang. The cities are situated along the Beibu Gulf in the south of Guangxi, which borders Viet Nam and has a coastline of over 1,500 kilometers. They form part of the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone which was approved in 2008 to promote domestic and regional economic cooperation and integration.
Over 651,000 people are expected to directly benefit from the project including almost 1,200 who will be employed during the operational phase, as well as almost 2,000 during the construction phase. The regional and municipal governments have agreed to prioritize the employment of vulnerable groups, including women, the poor and ethnic minorities.
Guangxi has been growing strongly over the past decade but its gross domestic product per capita was less than 70% of the national average in 2010, while its per capita rates of urban infrastructure investment and coverage are among the lowest in the country. Low quality roads, poor traffic safety, and untreated municipal and industrial water have degraded the urban environment. Weak infrastructure has also hindered the province's ability to act as a conduit for trade between the neighboring landlocked provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan and Hunan, and nearby countries, including Viet Nam.
The road upgrades will include the installation of energy efficient street lights, as well as climate-proofing features such as slope protection and permeable surfaces for sidewalks. The capacity of the cities to adopt a concept of universal design will also be enhanced to raise livability standards and better meet the needs of elderly and vulnerable people. A new wastewater treatment plant for Fangchenggang will incorporate technology to remove more nitrogen and phosphorus than standard treatments, resulting in long-term water quality improvements.