Multimodal Transport to Spur Economic Growth in Central PRC

Infrastructure improvements should upgrade the Shuiyang River and help Anhui capitalize on its close proximity to Shanghai and other neighboring affluent provinces.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The central province of Anhui in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will become better connected to coastal industrial hubs with a $200 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to improve roads, upgrade the Shuiyang River channel, and build a new intermodal port.

The improvements are expected to reduce average travel time and lower the traffic accident rate, as well as increase waterway traffic volumes by 20% by 2020.

Anhui province has had some success in its efforts to capitalize on its close proximity to Shanghai and other neighboring affluent provinces. In 2010, the PRC’s State Council approved a plan to create the Wanjiang Demonstration Zone, which aims to attract equipment manufacturing, textile, information technology, and agricultural industries to urbanized areas along the Wanjiang river. Yet despite its economic growth, the province’s gross domestic product per capita remains much lower than the adjacent coastal provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

“Anhui’s inadequate transport network is a major obstacle to rapid industrial and economic development, and as a result, to poverty reduction,” said Sharad Saxena, Senior Transport Specialist at ADB’s East Asia Department. “An efficient transport system will enable Anhui to harness its geographical and cost advantages, making it a favorable destination for industries relocating from the coast.”

Most of Anhui’s roads have only two lanes but some need to be upgraded to four or six lanes to accommodate development needs. At the same time, segregated lanes for cyclists, pedestrians, and buses need to be provided to ensure safety. Also, underinvestment in waterway navigation has left many of the river and tributary channels too shallow; the Shuiyang River can only accommodate small vessels during the wet season.

By supporting inland water transport, the multimodal transport project will also help the PRC develop the low-carbon transport modes needed to stem the rapid growth in emissions that contribute to global climate change.