AIPELO LIQUICA, TIMOR-LESTE (11 October 2018) — The European Union (EU) is providing a $22.62 million grant as additional financing to help rehabilitate targeted municipal roads under the ongoing Road Network Upgrading Project, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Timor-Leste. The project is creating a national network of reliable and safe roads in the country.

The Minister of Public Works Mr. Salvador Eugénio Soares dos Reis Pires, ADB Country Director for Timor-Leste Mr. Paolo Spantigati, and EU Ambassador to Timor-Leste Mr. Alexandre Leitão participated in a ground-breaking ceremony today to officially mark the first steps towards the road work.

“The Government of Timor-Leste will continue implementing infrastructure plans such as the network of roads in the country, which includes the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of national, municipal, and rural roads. This specific network roads project will improve national connectivity that will boost economic and social development activities in the area and the country in general,” said Mr. Pires.

“The network of roads being upgraded by this project will help reduce travel times and improve connectivity to clinics, schools, and other essential services,” said Mr. Spantigati. “Climate-proofing and maintenance are built into the project as well as safety awareness.”

“We are happy because road works have finally started after long delays. We shall look positive to the future. The rehabilitation of this road is an important step for the improvement and empowerment of the community,” said Mr. Leitão.

EU’s assistance will allow the upgrade and maintenance of 44 kilometers (km) of district roads, including the 11.8-km Ermera–Fatubessi road section and the 13.5-km Aipelu–Bazartete road sections in the Ermera and Liquica municipalities. The rehabilitation of these roads will provide direct job opportunities to communities living in these areas. The road works, which are expected to be completed by the end of 2019, will provide improved access to markets and services for coffee producing communities. Strawberry and fresh flower producers will also benefit from these upgrades. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Public Works, with construction works awarded to Shanghai Construction Group Co., Ltd.

All these existing district roads are in a severely deteriorated condition, with some only usable in dry conditions. Drainage and retaining structures are dilapidated or collapsed. Timor-Leste’s road network includes 1,426 km of national roads, 869 km of municipal roads, and about 3,000 km of rural roads. Around 70% of the roads are assessed to be in poor condition. The World Health Organization estimates that 190 lives are lost each year to road accidents.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.

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