The government of Bangladesh today signed a $500 million financing agreement with the World Bank 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 Western Economic Corridor and Regional Enhancement (WeCARE) Program Phase I project will help upgrade the 48 km two-lane Jashore-Jhenaidah road to a modern 4-lane highway.
The project will also help rehabilitate about 600 km connecting rural roads and build new or develop existing rural markets. It will also install fiber-optic cables along the highway to ensure fast and reliable internet service, said a World Bank press release.
The agreement was signed by Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Fatima Yasmin and World Bank country director Mercy Tembon on behalf of the government and the World Bank respectively. The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has a 34-year term, including a four-year grace period.
“This is a ground-breaking project that will help improve transport network,” said ERD Secretary Fatima Yasmin.
“Improvement in the logistics and transport in the western districts will further help accelerate economic growth and development for the entire country,” she added.
“With better connectivity and logistics, farmers will be able to reach new and existing markets in less time and cost, and will also minimize loss from spoilage of perishable goods,” 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.
The release said a “safe system approach” will be piloted along the highway to reduce fatalities and injuries due to road crashes.
The project will set up separate lanes for slow-moving vehicles, road crash barriers, signage, and safe crossing facilities for pedestrians.
The project is the first of a multi-phased $1.4 billion 10-year program to upgrade the existing 110 KM two-lane highway, Bhomra-Satkhira-Navaron and Jashore-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 about 1.3 million day works for local rural people in civil works.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then, the World Bank has committed more than $33.5 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country.