|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, is the northern anchor of the Greater Mekong Subregion North South Economic Corridor that connects the PRC to Thailand via routes through both the Lao PDR and Myanmar. It is a hub for trade between the PRC and countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and also India and Bangladesh. Yunnan's external trade is growing rapidly. The total value of imports and exports has risen from under $2 billion in 2001 to $12.3 billion in 2011, representing an average increase of 20% per annum over 10 years. In 2011, the values of imports and exports were roughly equal (a little over $6 billion each), but imports are growing substantially faster than exports.
Despite being the only prefecture in Yunnan bordering Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam, international trade generated in Pu'er was $100 million in 2011 (less than 1% of the Yunnan total). This reflects a lack of high-quality border crossings and road connections. Of the prefecture's 20 existing border crossings, only three are class I crossings (one with Myanmar and two with the Lao PDR).11 A fourth class I crossing is needed to serve the border with Viet Nam at Longfu in Jiangcheng county. This requires investment in upgrading the Ning'er Jiangcheng Longfu road to connect the border and the provincial expressway network. This improvement, along with the newly constructed Menkang crossing to the Lao PDR, will place Jiangcheng county at the center of Yunnan's trade with neighboring countries, since it is equidistant from the nearest trading centers in Yunnan (Pu'er), Lao PDR (Phongsali), and Viet Nam (Dien Bien Phu).
In 2005, the Pu'er Municipal Government (PMG) commissioned development of a border economic cooperation zone at Meng'a to serve trade with Myanmar's Shan State. Between 2007 and 2012, total trade through Meng'a increased from $59 million to $271 million,12 at an average annual growth rate of 35%.13 However, trade facilities and road connections to Meng'a are inadequate to service demand and are constraining growth in trade volumes. To meet demand it is necessary to expand transit and storage facilities at Meng'a and improve road connections from Meng'a to the provincial highway network at Lancang via Menglian.
About 94% of the province's land area is covered by mountains and hills, which pose a great obstacle to the provision of basic access to rural roads. At present, Pu'er's rural roads provide communities with access to (i) markets for sale and purchase of produce and agricultural inputs; (ii) collection or processing stations for the sale of cash crops; (iii) towns and cities for seasonal employment opportunities; and (iv) social services. Although some limited services and facilities exist in or around the administrative villages (clinic, processing stations, and primary schools), most are located in the townships (markets, hospitals, primary and middle schools, banks, police, coffee collection stations, and tea processing plants). Some services and facilities are only available in the county towns (major markets, large hospitals, and secondary schools). Demand for rural transport is substantial between the villages and the nearest townships up to five times a month for each household, to the county town once or twice a month, and to the prefecture capital a few times a year.
Yunnan's road crash fatality rate per 100,000 persons is 4.1 (3.9 in Pu'er), comparable to the rates in France and the United Kingdom. However, the fatality rate per 10,000 vehicles or per billion vehicle-kilometers is 3 5 times higher, implying that low overall fatality rates are due to the low number of vehicles, not to high road safety. As rapid motorization continues, fatality rates are likely to rise unless more attention is given to road safety. A road safety emphasis needs to be an integral part of the engineering design process.