|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The Government of Nepal has adopted a National Urban Policy since 2007, which gives priority to (i) achieving a balanced national urban structure by directing infrastructure development and investment in regional economic centers (REC), (ii) improving the quality of urban life by building a clean, safe, and well-developed urban environment, and (iii) setting up effective urban management by empowering capable local institutions. Five RECs were identified in the National Urban Policy, including Biratnagar (Eastern Region), Birgunj (Central Region), Butwal (Western Region), Nepalgunj (Mid-western region) and Dhangadi (Far Western Region). Among the five RECs, Biratnagar is the largest. It is also the second largest city in Nepal with a population of 166,674 in 2001. The estimated population in 2011 is over 200,000.
Biratnagar is located at the south-eastern border to India, a tradition hub for agriculture, industry and trade. The city is at a gateway position to India and other neighbor countries, which makes it a major center for international and domestic trips. The Government of India is assisting Biratnagar in building an integrated check-post to manage cross-border activities, and in connecting the city with the railway network of India. Construction of roads linking to China is underway. Biratnagar is also close to Bangladesh and Bhutan. The improved connectivity to neighbor countries and the strategic role as an economic hub will drive the urbanization of Biratnagar at a high speed.
Following the fast-paced urbanization, there are needs to systematically plan and effectively manage the urban transport system of Biratnagar to ensure its affordability, accessibility, safety, and environmental sustainability. The urban road network of Biratnagar includes about 155 km of paved roads, 160 km of gravel, and 140 km of unpaved. Traffic congestion is now becoming serious on the major junctions, but no traffic signal is installed or operated on the road network. The city has 4 small bus parks for intercity transport services. One bus park is being upgraded to a main terminal by the Town Development Fund (TDF) of Ministry of Physical Planning and Public Works (MPPW). The intra-city transport services are mainly provided by cycle rickshaws. The pedestrian and cycle rickshaws share street space with motorized traffic, causing issues of mobility and safety.
By implementing the TA and disseminating the knowledge and experience obtained in Biratnagar, it is expected that other municipalities, particularly those of other REC cities, will follow a similar approach to urban transport planning and management. Furthermore, future investment in urban transport by the government, ADB, and other development partners will be guided by the comprehensive urban transport strategies formulated by the REC cities. The improved urban transport system will support the efficient movement of people and goods, and result in reduced congestion, fewer traffic accidents, efficient use of fuel, and better air quality. Ultimately, the impact of the TA will contribute to regionally balanced economic growth and reduced social inequity, which is in line with the transport sector outcomes that ADB supports in its country partnership strategy, 2010 2012.