ADB grant to final section of Afghanistan’s Ring Road
Manila, Philippines – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed an agreement this week with the Government of Afghanistan to provide a new $176 million grant to complete construction of the Ring Road highway, which loops the country and connects its cities.
The agreement was signed in Kabul on Tuesday 2007-11-06 by Anwar-ul Haq Ahady, Minister of Finance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Juan Miranda, Director General of ADB’s Central and West Asia Department, who was in Afghanistan on a three-day visit.
“Completion of the Ring Road will be a major achievement for the nation-building effort in Afghanistan,” Mr. Miranda said. “The Ring Road is the backbone of the country’s transport network. It will link key cities as well as other nations in the region. This is good for all people, trade and investment.”
The only section of the 3000-kilometer Ring Road’s construction remaining to be funded was a 193 kilometer stretch between the towns of Bala Murghab and Armalick in northwestern Afghanistan.
The ADB grant will finance a 143 kilometer section from Bala Murghab to Leman, while the Islamic Development Bank and the Saudi Fund will co-finance the remaining 50 kilometer section from Leman to Armalick.
“Completion of the road network is essential for Afghanistan’s desperately needed economic growth,” Mr. Ahady said after thanking ADB for funding the project.
He said the highway will significantly improve accessibility around the country, therefore boosting trade and improving livelihoods.
The Minister of Public Works H.E. Sohrab Ali Saffary said “the Ring Road network is not only a source for better economic growth, but also a bridge linking provinces to each other.”
The new all-weather road will link northern Afghanistan with the country’s western region. It will cut travel times between the country’s northeast and southwest by three to five hours. This will lead to significantly lower transport costs, not only domestically but also between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.
Local communities near the new road will be encouraged to participate in its construction and maintenance to ensure they immediately benefit from the project.
With the new grant, ADB will have contributed about $600 million to the road reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.
Since resuming operations in Afghanistan in 2002, ADB has approved more than $1 billion in assistance, focusing not only on roads but also on building and rehabilitating power transmission lines, irrigation infrastructure, and on governance and capacity building.