The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Pakistan have signed a loan agreement for $75 million to widen and upgrade 42 kilometers (km) of the busy Mardan–Swabi road in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan.
The loan agreements were signed by ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang and Economic Affairs Division Secretary Noor Ahmed at a ceremony in Islamabad. Communications and Work Department Secretary Shahab Khattak represented Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority and the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The financing for the new road section expands the scope of a $140 million loan for the ongoing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Road Improvement Project. The original project will improve eight sections of key provincial roads to improve transport efficiency and safety.
The additional $75 million in financing, approved by the ADB Board of Directors in December 2018, will upgrade the existing two-lane road between Mardan and Swabi to a four-lane divided road to accommodate increasing traffic demand and improve environmental resilience.
The project will also build tolling and gender-sensitive amenities, including bus shelters and pedestrian facilities, and will promote road safety measures as part of the capacity building efforts for the KP Communications and Works Department.
The Mardan–Swabi road spans the fertile agricultural and emerging industrial heartland of the KP along the Indus and Kabul rivers. The region boasts rich Gandhara and Buddhist archeological and cultural heritage including the world heritage site of Takht Bhai. The upgraded road will ease traffic congestion and make travel faster and safer for tourists, commuters, and truckers in the region.
“The new dual carriageway will bring many benefits to the KP region,” said Yang. “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. The road will also improve rural people’s access to social services in Mardan, the province’s second largest city.”
The average daily traffic on the road connecting the two cities is about 7,000 vehicles, excluding the high volume of non-motorized traffic. Traffic will continue to grow at 3.4pc annually.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.