Safer and Better Roads in Bulgaria – with Planning, Practices, and People.
August 7, 2014
- Through its reimbursable advisory services, the World Bank is advising the Bulgarian government on best-practice use of public funds for building new roads and upgrading infrastructure.
- The Bank’s policy recommendations were discussed recently with Bulgarian Ministers and high level officials at a workshop in Bansko.
- Building roads requires more than money and asphalt: it requires adequate planning, effective and efficient practices, and well-trained people.
To build a road network, you need lots of money – and asphalt, of course. But, what else do you need?
A World Bank team of transport experts, working closely with Bulgaria’s Roads Administration over the past 18 months, can answer that question with three words: planning, practices, and people. Adequate planning, well-established institutions with effective and efficient practices, and well-trained and skilled people are all essential to ensuring that new roads are safe and reliable.
In 2012, the Bulgarian government availed of the World Bank’s reimbursable advisory services to request advice on how the country could invest in building new roads and upgrading infrastructure through more efficient use of public funds. As part of the strategic partnership that Bulgaria has established with several international financial institutions, this guidance was requested with a view to making the most of EU funds currently available for infrastructure development.
In June 2014, the results of this cooperation were discussed at a national workshop held in Bansko, attended by Desislava Terzieva, Bulgaria’s Minister of Regional Development, Danail Papazov, Minister of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, and eng. Stefan Chaykov, Chairman of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA). Other high-level attendees included Jose Luis Irigoyen, World Bank Global Practice Director for Transport & ICT, as well as experts from the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The concept of the ‘3Ps’ in road network development was presented by Rakesh Tripathi, the World Bank’s advisory group team leader. “The 3Ps are: plan, practice and people,” he explained. “An Infrastructure agency needs well prepared people who, through thoughtful practice design, can implement the comprehensive strategic plan of the agency and the Ministry.”
The partnership between Bulgaria and the World Bank Transport team has been strong, where we have delivered over 15 reports and implementation plans, and where we already see a great degree of implementation taking place, which we hope, in future, will transform RIA into one of the leading Infrastructure agencies in Europe.
The World Bank is supporting Bulgaria’s Roads Administration through the development of strategic documents that include a business plan for the RIA, a road safety action plan for the period up to 2020, and a medium-term program for the roads system.
Eng. Stefan Chaykov, Chairman of the Management Board of the RIA, recently outlined the Agency’s strategic objectives for the coming years, which include the development of a sustainable road infrastructure, integration of the national road network into the European network, improvement of road safety, and more effective management of the roads sector.
The implementation of these objectives will have several positive impacts, including improving and developing cross-border links, attracting international transit traffic, and boosting the competitiveness of the economy.
For the citizens of Bulgaria – many of whom live in small towns or rural areas and are highly dependent on road transportation – the new, improved road system will mean increased opportunities for employment and improved productivity. Ultimately, it is hoped that living costs will decrease and living standards will rise, leading to a sustainable reduction in poverty across the country.
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