The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced on Wednesday that it will offer loans of US$200 million to fund a road project in southwest China.
The loan will fund part of the Eastern Sichuan Roads Development Project, which is estimated to cost US$1.42 billion.
According to the ADB, the project will serve the poverty-stricken areas in the mountainous periphery of Sichuan Province by connecting two major cities, Chongqing and Xi'an.
It will involve the construction of a 143-kilometer four-lane toll expressway across mountainous terrain and upgrading of 430 kilometers of local roads that serve poor counties and townships.
The project will also promote corporate governance by separating expressway construction and operations from the provincial government and building capacity in project management, quality control, road safety, and monitoring and evaluation, said the ADB.
"By developing an integrated expressway and complementary local road network, the project will help improve access to markets and social services for the rural poor residents in the area," said Makoto Ojiro, principal transport economist of the ADB's East Asia Department. "The project will reduce transport time and costs, which should encourage investment, create jobs and increase incomes."
The ADB viewed the project as critical, as movement of goods and passengers by road are rapidly increasing in China.
From 1990 to 2005, passenger road traffic rose by an average 8.8 percent annually, while freight road traffic rose by 6.4 percent annually. In Sichuan alone, road passenger traffic grew at an average annual rate of 6.5 percent and road freight traffic by 4.3 percent.
(China Daily July 19, 2007)