ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Pakistan signed a $75-million loan agreement for widening and upgrading 42 kilometres of the busy Mardan-Swabi road in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The loan agreement was inked on Tuesday by ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang and Economic Affairs Division Secretary Noor Ahmed.
Financing for the new road section expands the scope of a $140-million loan for the ongoing K-P Provincial Road Improvement project. The original project will improve eight sections of key provincial roads in a bid to improve transport efficiency and safety.
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The additional $75 million in financing, approved by the ADB board of directors in December 2018, will help upgrade the existing two-lane road between Mardan and Swabi to a four-lane divided road to meet increasing traffic demand and improve environmental resilience.
Under the project, tolling and gender-sensitive amenities will be built including bus shelters and pedestrian facilities, and road safety measures will be promoted as part of capacity-building efforts of the K-P communications and works department.
The Mardan-Swabi road spans the fertile agricultural and emerging industrial heartland of K-P along Indus and Kabul rivers. The upgraded road will ease traffic congestion and make travel faster and safer for tourists, commuters and truckers in the region.
Speaking on the occasion, Xiaohong said, “The new dual carriageway will bring many benefits to the K-P region.
The road will connect a thriving agricultural region with a busy industrial hub, and link the region to important tourist destinations such as Swat and Kalam through the Swat Expressway.”
Average daily traffic on the road connecting the two cities is about 7,000 vehicles, excluding the high volume of non-motorised traffic. Traffic will continue to grow at a 3.4% pace annually.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2019.