WASHINGTON, December 19, 2014 - The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank today approved a US$250 million loan to the Republic of Belarus for a Transit Corridor Improvement Project to enhance transport connectivity, border crossing procedures, and road safety in Belarus. The project supports improvement of sections of the M6 Transit Corridor linking Minsk and Grodno as part of the national strategy to connect all six Oblast centers to high standard roads. It will help to address border crossing delays at the western border facing Poland by streamlining customs clearance procedures, thereby facilitating growth in trade.
“The potential of Belarus as a transit and trade hub is presently not fully exploited. The project will invest in the key transit corridor connecting Belarus and Poland and support the on-going reform of the roads and customs sectors, promoting cross-border trade and transit transport services, and laying the foundation for new business and investment opportunities,” noted Mr. Young Chul Kim, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus.
As a result of the border management enhancement component of this project, the handling capacity of the Bruzgi border crossing point is expected to increase from the current 700 trucks to 1,700 trucks per day. The activities will be complemented by IFC advisory work studying constraints in border clearance procedures and recommending business process improvements.
The project will also support improved road safety and network management through a more market-orientated approach to the development of roadside services and the development of a Traffic and Road Safety Coordination Center.
“Domestic and international road users will benefit from reduced journey times between Minsk and Grodno, lower road accident risks, and a better travel experience with improved public amenities and services as well as real-time traffic information, including detour suggestions due to severe weather and road maintenance works. This project will also promote private participation in the roads sector through the development of roadside services,” summarized Mr. Simon David Ellis, Lead Transport Specialist and Task Team Leader of the Project.
This is the largest ever World Bank loan to the Republic of Belarus, and the second road transport project that the Bank is currently financing in the country. The ongoing Road Upgrading and Modernization Project, to be completed in 2015, helped to upgrade 53 kilometers of the M5 road forming part of the Trans-European Transport Corridor IX. Introduction of an axle load monitoring and control system is now in progress.
Since the Republic of Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992, lending commitments to the country have totaled US$1.39 billion. In addition, grant financing totaling US$25 million has been provided to programs, including those with civil society organizations. With the approval of this project, the current investment lending portfolio would include six operations totaling US$898 million.