The World Bank has approved a US$60 million credit to help Nepal maintain and construct bridges on its Strategic Roads Network. The strategic roads network refers to roughly 10,800 kilometers of national highways, feeder roads and other roads of national importance.
Supporting the vision behind Nepal’s Bridge Policy and Strategy of 2004 to provide “safe, reliable and cost effective” bridges, the Bridges Improvement and Maintenance Program will maintain 89 bridges, many over 35 years old, complete major and minor maintenance on over 300 bridges, and construct 121 new bridges.
According to the World Bank press release, the Program will be financed through a new World Bank financing instrument called the Program for Results or P4R that links disbursements of funds directly to the delivery of verifiable results. This is the first Program-for-Results to be approved by the World Bank’s Board under IDA, the Bank’s concessional financing window. The Bank will provide approximately 40% of program financing, with the Government of Nepal providing the remaining 60%. The program will support the strengthening of institutional systems and will develop transparent implementation arrangements, including linking disbursements to verification of results, third party monitoring, use of social accountability tools and technical audits.
“Through this new Program-for-Results instrument, the World Bank support will contribute towards improving access for the population of Nepal, especially those living in remote areas,” says Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. “We hope it will also create greater economic opportunities for men and women,” she said.
“Three quarters of the bridges require urgent maintenance but the costs are estimated at under US$250,000 per bridge,” says Farhad Ahmed, Task Team Leader at the World Bank. “Similar estimates suggest that most of the new bridges will cost less than US$1 million each.”
The World Bank has funded six road projects in Nepal. By improving mobility and access, including in the poorest regions of western and far-western Nepal, these projects are generating economic opportunities while reducing the vulnerability of excluded and marginalized groups.