The World Bank will provide a $500 million loan to help upgrade the Jashore-Jhenaidah highway and improve the connecting rural roads and markets that will benefit over 20 million people living in the western region.
The International Development Association of World Bank Group will provide the loan. The fund will be used to upgrade 48km two-lane Jashore-Jhenaidah highway into a 4-lane highway, according to a financing agreement signed on Monday.
The project will be jointly implemented by the Road Transport and Highways Division and the Local Government Division.
It will also help restore about 600km connecting rural roads and build new or develop existing rural markets. Fibre-optic cables will be installed along the highway under the project to ensure fast and reliable internet services.
Better connectivity and logistics will help farmers reach new and existing markets in less time and at a low cost. Loss suffered due to decay of perishable goods will also come down, said Mercy Tembon, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
"The economic corridor will create new opportunities for people and stimulate the local economy. Moreover, this will help Bangladesh become a regional hub for trade, transit and logistics," she added.
A "safe system approach" will be piloted along the highway to reduce fatalities and injuries due to road accidents. The project will set up separate lanes for slow-moving vehicles, road crash barriers, signage, and safe crossing facilities for pedestrians.
Fatima Yasmin, secretary of Economic Relations Division, said the project would improve the transport network in the western districts, accelerating economic growth for the entire country.
The project is the first of a multi-phased $1.4 billion 10-year program to upgrade the existing 110 KM two-lane highway from Bhomra through Satkhira, Navaron and Jashore to Jhenaidah.
In the current phase, the project will be implemented in four districts: Jashore, Jhenaidah, Magura, and Chuadanga. In the first two years, the project will create scope for about 1.3 million day works for local rural people.
The credit from the World Bank's International Development Association, has a 34-year payment term, including a four-year grace period.