World Bank to invest $45 million in Tajikistan road links

WASHINGTON: The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors has approved an allocation of US$45 million to finance the second phase of the transformative Central Asia Road Links Program, to be implemented in Tajikistan in 2015-2020. 

The objective of this project is to increase transport connectivity between Tajikistan and neighboring countries along key cross-border road links in Sughd Oblast, and thus connect people and firms, markets and opportunities, regionally.

The Central Asia Road Links (CARs) Program is a collaborative regional, multi-phase program initiated by governments of Central Asia. The program aims to increase transport connectivity between neighboring countries while supporting improvements in road operations and maintenance practices.  The first phase of the CARs, covering the Kyrgyz Republicfocuses on the rehabilitation of cross-border road links bordering Tajikistan in Batken Oblast.

This Second Phase of the Central Asia Road Links Program – CARs-2 will focus on the rehabilitation of approximately 70 kilometers of cross-border road sections in Sughd Oblast connecting Tajikistan’s road network with that of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. Specifically, the road sections to be rehabilitated include: Kuchkak-Kim-Isfara-Guliston border crossing (45.1 km), Dehmoi-Proletarsk-Madaniyat border crossing (16.9 km), including a link to the intermodal rail terminal in Proletarsk, and Kanibadam-Patar border crossing (5.7 km).

“Tajikistan is Central Asia’s least connected, most isolated country, with only limited regional and international connectivity, where road transport is often the only option given the alpine topography and small rail network,” said Patricia Veevers-Carter, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “By financing the rehabilitation of cross-border road links in Sughd Oblast, which accounts for 40 percent of the country’s overall freight turnover, the project will expand opportunities for trade and increase the competitiveness of domestic products, leading to private sector growth and job creation.”

In addition to rehabilitation work, the project will support the Ministry of Transport of Tajikistan in improvement of road operations and asset management practices. This will include: support in developing Transport Sector Development Strategy up to 2050, reviewing the technical standards, norms and parameters on vehicle weight, axle load limits and tariffication, as well as developing a strategic plan for the implementation of the axle load control systems. On asset management, the project will finance a survey equipment (including geo-references) and provide support for the final deployment of a road asset management system in the Ministry of Transport to help address the problem of overloaded of trucks.

The CARs-2 project will be implemented over five years by the Ministry of Transport of Tajikistan. The World Bank’s total contribution of US$45 million equivalent consists of US$38.25 million provided as a highly concessional credit, and US$6.75 million as a grant. The Government of Tajikistan provided co-financing in the amount of US$9 million. It is estimated that the project will directly benefit about 2.6 million residents of Sughd Oblast who are expected to be regular road users travelling along the road sections.

The World Bank Group’s active portfolio in Tajikistan includes 12 projects totaling US$185.1 million that aim to support economic growth through private sector development, while investing in better public services for people, such as education, health, municipal services and social protection. Since 1996, the World Bank has provided US$978 million in grants and highly concessional credits from the International Development Association and trust fund resources to Tajikistan.