WASHINGTON, May 1, 2012 – Today, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$ 1,068 million loan to Kazakhstan for the East-West Roads Project. The objective of the project is to increase transport efficiency along the section of the Western Europe-Western China (WE-WC) Road Corridor within Almaty Oblast, and to modernize highway management on sections of the Corridor.
Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world with a land area equal to that of Western Europe. The upgrade of the Western Europe-Western China (WE-WC) Road Corridor is among top priorities of Kazakhstan’s infrastructure development agenda. It is the main road corridor crossing Kazakhstan from the border with China in the southeast, through Almaty, Taraz, Shymkent, Kyzyl-Orda, and Aktobe, to the border with Russia (a total of 2,787 km). Construction started in 2009. To date, the World Bank already helped upgrade 1,065 km of the corridor through the financing of the ongoing South-West Road Project.
The approved East-West Roads Project is expected to provide an efficient transport link from Almaty - one of the major economic centers of Central Asia - to Khorgos, the primary road border crossing point between Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China, thereby completing the upgrade of the WE-WC Road Corridor. The project will improve road transport movement for about 7.9 million of people, about half of Kazakhstan’s population.
“The Almaty-Khorgos Corridor is the road with the most impact on the regional economy, being a transit link for goods imported from China to Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries, and therefore is essential to accelerating trade flows and economic prospects,” said Sebnem Akkaya, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. “The development of transport infrastructure combined with efforts to increase the efficiency of the transport sector is an enabling factor towards the development of the country’s economic competitiveness, increased productivity, and diversification.”
The East-West Roads Project covers the following road sections: Almaty - Shilik, Shilik - Tashkarasu, and Tashkarasu - China Border. The new road will be 13 percent shorter than the existing one (305 km instead of 351 km). About 65 percent of the works will be for a new alignment. The project is expected to facilitate more efficient movements of goods and people, and improve road safety. It should also facilitate industrial, agricultural, and commercial activities with improved trade and services along the road, and in adjacent towns and cities.
The quality of services provided to road-users will be improved —vehicle operating costs are expected to be 13 percent lower when the new road will be completed. The riding quality and road safety will also improve. The project will also help Kazakavtodor— the State own company in charge of maintenance— to better serve road users and to become an efficient, service oriented institution.
“In addition to the physical investments to improve the quality of the roads, the project will help strengthen the institutional framework of the road sector to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the international road network in Kazakhstan,” says Jacque Bure, Task Team Leader for the World Bank East-West Roads Project. “Involvement of the World Bank will promote transparency in use of resources, introduction of internationally compliant fiduciary, safeguard standards, and modern technical standards for road design and construction.
Civil works will be completed in 2015. An upgrade of the road corridor from 2 to 4 lanes will require additional finances from the republican budget for the operation and maintenance. A study will be launched to review different user-pay mechanisms to assist the Government recover these costs. Proper and timely operation and maintenance will ensure that the investments reach their intended useful life, and that road-users are provided with the expected level of service.
Kazakhstan joined the World Bank Group in July 1992. Since then, the World Bank has become a major development partner with commitments of US$ 5.6 billion for 39 projects.