The World Bank has agreed to finance a project that will improve export opportunities for producers in poor regions of southern China by improving the navigability of the major east-west river and other waterways, and use the water flow to produce energy to meet growing demand in Guangdong Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The Fourth Inland Waterways Project, financed in part by a US$91 million loan, is an element of the World Bank's assistance program to China.
Says Graham Smith, who leads the World Bank infrastructure team in China, "The project is expected to benefit people who use this waterway to transport raw materials and other goods from rural areas to the Pearl River Delta area, including people from the poor areas that are often the source of coal, sand and gravel, timber and other building materials being transported on the river. It will also ease congestion on the competing railway routes for people in surrounding areas."
In Guangxi, the project will allow navigation of large vessels between the cities of Baise and Nanning on the Youjiang River and generate electricity through the construction of the Naji Dam. In Guangdong, it will improve navigation conditions on the Beijiang and Lianjiang rivers in the hilly northern part of the province, and generate electricity through the construction of the Xiniu Dam. Both regions currently face shortages of electric power.
The average per capita income in Baise Prefecture of rural western Guangxi is about US$500. In the Lianjiang River valley it is about US$400, well below the provincial average in each case.
In Guangdong, the project also includes widening and deepening a waterway crossing the Pearl River Delta. This will allow larger ships and barges to ply safely between the rural southwestern part of the province and the industrialized Shenzhen/Zhuhai/Hong Kong area.
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) US$91 million variable-spread loan has a 20-year maturity and a five-year grace period.
(China.org.cn March 29, 2004)