This report evaluates the performance of the Chengdu-Nanchong Expressway Project, which was provided by ADB to the Government of the People's Republic of China in November 1998.
The Chengdu-Nanchong expressway was a priority section of the national trunk highway system. The expressway runs from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, to Nanchong, a municipality in the poorer, eastern part of the province. The Project aimed to promote economic and social development in the southwest of the People's Republic of China and was in line with ADB's strategic objective of reducing poverty in inland provinces. The evaluation considered three groups of project components:
- civil works for the expressway
- upgrading of the county roads
- institutional strengthening and road safety
Summary of Findings
- Overall the Project was rated as successful but is close to the lower limit of the highly successful rating.
- The Project was rated as highly relevant. The expressway and county road components were found highly relevant, while the institutional strengthening component was found relevant. All 3 components were fully consistent with the Government's strategy of connecting major areas of growth, fostering regional and international trade, and providing better access to less developed and disadvantaged areas. The Project was also in line with the strategy's road sector priorities of constructing expressways connecting major growth centers, improving access in the western and central regions, and integrating the road network as access for the local population to the main economic centers. If not for the slower progress in institutional reform and governance of the implementing agency that caused the non-optimal design of the institutional strengthening component, this component would have been rated as highly relevant as well.
- The Project was rated as highly effective. The civil works and county road upgrading components were rated as highly effective. The expressway is operating well in terms of roughness, ability to carry traffic, allowing traffic to travel safely at higher speeds, and in more comfort than the existing road. The county road improvements have offered villagers faster and cheaper access to townships in Nanchong, increased trade, and in some cases, a change in agriculture to more time-sensitive, higher-profit crops. The institutional strengthening component enabled the Project to introduce modern approaches to commercial business management for expressways, support improved governance in the road sector, and strengthen institutions to increase commercial orientation and management efficiency of expressway corporations.
- The Project was rated as highly efficient. The civil works and country roads components were rated highly efficient on the basis of a reestimated economic internal rate of return of 24% and 25%, respectively. The progress of institutional reform and governance was slow and no evidence of actions recommended to attract private sector participation being carried out was found. Hence, the institutional strengthening component was rated as efficient.
- The Project was rated as likely to be sustainable. Funding for expressway maintenance is generated by toll revenues and, with low budget requirements for routine maintenance, the prospects for sustainability are good. This may not be the case for county roads whose sustainability was assessed as less likely owing to insufficient funds for maintenance given the traffic increases during the life cycle of these roads. As the implementing agency has made efforts toward improved organizational efficiency, the sustainability of the institutional strengthening component was assessed as most likely.
- The use of preliminary design documents as the basis for the bidding documents was cited by the project completion report as a significant issue because it led to substantial problems and additional costs during construction and partly to increased resettlement costs. Recent Ministry of Construction legislation has resolved the issue, but ADB should continue its policy dialogue with the Government to ensure that ADB- and domestically-financed projects start bidding after detailed design is completed.
- Another issue that deserves attention is whether the local road component spread the benefits of the expressway to the hinterlands and whether these benefits outweighed the transactional costs associated with the component. Evidence shows that support for local roads would be more effective if it were de-linked from expressways.
- An important lesson was the need for much greater attention to resettlement during project implementation. Specific lessons included
- updating the detailed resettlement plan after a measurement survey to determine that provisions and cost adjustments are adequate
- giving more attention to resettlement monitoring and submitting monitoring reports on time
- establishing systematic data collection requirements
- supervising resettlement more closely to stay informed of the progress and to ensure that implementation complies with the resettlement plan. Review missions to projects with a significant amount of resettlement and/or substantial increase in numbers of resettled people above appraisal estimates should include a resettlement specialist in the team.