The World Bank on Wednesday approved a $450 million in loan to help Nepal. The amount would be used to improve Nepal’s roads and set the course for post-COVID-19 economic recovery through greater cross-border trade, more jobs, especially for women, and better road safety. According to the World Bank, the Nepal Strategic Road Connectivity and Trade Improvement Project will enhance regional road connectivity by improving the Nagdhunga-Naubise-Mugling road and upgrading the Kamala-Dhalkebar-Pathlaiya road.
The project will also enhance infrastructure, facilities, and sanitation at border crossing points to ease trade constraints and spur agricultural exports, the World Bank states in a press release. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the project will also support better screening of goods and people at border facilities, and develop guidance for special working arrangements, such as safe distancing and remote working. The project will strengthen the National Road Safety Council and the Department of Roads and support periodic maintenance of high-traffic roads within the Strategic Road Network. It also includes a contingency emergency response component to reallocate project funds to support emergency response and recovery.
The project is well-aligned with the past and ongoing efforts of Nepal and its regional partners to achieve the full potential for trade in the eastern sub-region of South Asia. It is a part of the World Bank’s Eastern Corridor Connectivity Program, which since 2013, has financed a continually evolving regional program to improve connectivity and trade in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.