WASHINGTON/BEIJING, April 22, 2008 – Today the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a loan of $200 million to the People’s Republic of China to help increase the effective use of the road infrastructure in the Anhui Province in support of its social and economic development.
Located in eastern China with about 65 million people, Anhui’s geographic location makes the province a natural crossing area for the flow of industrial products and technology between the more developed coastal provinces and less prosperous inland regions. However, the average service level of Anhui’s 71,000 km highway network is limited due to the relatively low technical standards, and its percentage of paved roads is also the lowest compared to the six surrounding provinces. Other major issues of the existing highway network include connections on the east-forward corridors consisting of roads of a class not commensurate with their function, deteriorating condition of several priority segments, and unbalanced distribution of road connectivity across the Anhui Province.
Anhui Highway Rehabilitation and Improvement Project seeks to assist the Government of Anhui in its efforts to enhance the level of service and traffic capacity by improving the condition of the roads across the province, pilot more efficient initiatives for road maintenance, and enhance institutional capacity in road network planning and management, towards optimizing the use of resources for the upkeep of road assets.
“Through the project, we hope to help improve the living conditions in Anhui Province by enhancing the transport accessibility to economic opportunities and social services,” said World Bankproject leader and Lead Transport SpecialistAurelio Menendez. “The project also aims at reducing transport costsso as tostimulatehigher economic growth within the province and between Anhui and its neighboring provinces.”
World Bank finance accounts for over 40% of the total project cost of $468 million. It will be used to improve pavement conditions of about 890 km of the road network, upgrade about 320 km of key provincial and national roads, pilot road maintenance by contract approach, and support technical assistance and staff training. This is the third highway project that the World Bank has supported in Anhui Province.