KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $25.5 million grant to boost maintenance work on sections of Afghanistan’s regional highway in the southeastern part of the country and enhance the overall sustainability of the road transport sector.
“There has been a massive effort to rebuild Afghanistan's infrastructure since 2002, and nearly 8,000 km of roads have been reconstructed or rehabilitated to date, but they had fallen back into disrepair due to poor operation and a prolonged lack of maintenance,” said Witoon Tawisook, Principal Transport Specialist with ADB’s Central and West Asia Regional Department. ”The project will address the lack of an effective road operation and maintenance system, and a chronic shortage of funds to implement one.”
An ongoing ADB study for road operation and maintenance found that 85% of the road network in Afghanistan is in deteriorating condition, and only 50% is serviceable year-round. Given the country’s narrow economic base and scarce budget resources, the government is unlikely to meet its annual funding target of $200 million for road maintenance and will have to rely on donor contributions for the foreseeable future. Lack of systematic planning and management of roads, organizational and human resource issues, and overlapping mandates of different organizations responsible for the road sector further exacerbate the problem.
To help address these issues, the project will help establish sustainable road management practices—specifically in road asset management and road maintenance for the country’s major highways—and build the technical capacity of the Ministry of Public Works to operate and maintain roads through classroom and on-the-job training .
A total of about 220 kilometers of two sections of the Kabul–Jalalabad highway and the Kabul–Kandahar highway from Kabul to Ghazni were selected for maintenance due to their economic and strategic importance. The former is the busiest intercity highway in Afghanistan and one of the nation’s economic lifelines, while the latter is part of the strategic national ring road.
The proposed road asset management system will include the design, development, and trial deployment of the system, as well as the provision of adequate information and communication technology infrastructure.
Afghanistan is a founding member of ADB and to date it has received over $4.3 billion in grants and loans, including more than $2.2 billion for roads, railways, and airport projects.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.