Timor-Leste is upgrading its road network to promote economic growth and spread petroleum wealth outside the capital city of Dili.
Since independence, the Asian Development Bank has been Timor-Leste’s lead developing partner in the road sector.
Baucau, Timor-Leste – Timor-Leste is upgrading its road network to promote economic growth outside the capital city of Dili.
“Transporting goods to Baucau is a challenge because the road to Dili has not been in good condition for years,” explains Bernardo Domingos Guterres, a trader and shop owner from the provincial town of Baucau.
“We expect that when the road upgrade is completed, things will get a lot easier for us.
We bring all sorts of goods from Dili to Baucau every day and the new road will help our business.”
Timor-Leste’s road network is relatively extended but in poor condition.
“In the past, the road was in truly poor condition and transporting goods was expensive. We did not own our own vehicles and so we had to rent cars for $150-180 a trip, up to $1,000 per month,” continues Guterres.
“It was expensive because the road was bad. Things began to improve when the roadworks started.
“We expect costs to get even lower when the work is completed. We will not need to spend so much money on new tires and fuel, and that will help our bottom line.”
Better roads facilitate trade, which helps diversify the economy and spread the benefits of petroleum wealth across the country.
“Roads are central to transport in Timor-Leste. Around 40% of the policy initiatives in transport and communication is about roads,” says Joanico Gonçalves, Director of Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Transport and Communications.
“This is at the heart of the National Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030. Roads will play a crucial role in the country’s transformation, as almost 70% of public services revolve around transport.”
Modern roads help improve connections with Indonesia, one of Timor-Leste’s main trading partners.
“Things are better now. When the road was in a bad state, it used to take us up to 4 hours to get to the Indonesian border,” says Vincent Cu Mi Adi, who owns and runs a travel company.
“Now it takes need two and a half hours, and the cars remain in good shape. They used to break down so often in the past.”
Since independence, ADB has been Timor-Leste’s lead developing partner in the road sector.
New roads that are less vulnerable to floods and landslides will accelerate economic growth, promote private enterprises, and reduce poverty.