WASHINGTON, July 30, 2020 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today the grant-financed Fourth Phase of the Central Asia Regional Links Program (CARs-4), which aims to enhance Tajikistan’s regional transport connectivity and facilitate cross-border trade. The financing for the project comes from the International Development Association ($131 million) and the Program for Asia Connectivity and Trade Trust Fund ($1 million).
“Mountainous, landlocked, connectivity-constrained, Tajikistan has the highest transport and trade costs in Central Asia,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “The combination of investments in transport infrastructure and modernization of customs procedures will help Tajikistan to create export markets and generate a perspective for private enterprises and the young and growing population.”
The goal of the Fourth Phase of the Central Asia Regional Links Program (CARs-4) is to improve Tajikistan’s connectivity and cross-border trade and enhance the resilience and safety of its road infrastructure in Sughd region and Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous region (GBAO). The northern Sughd region and the eastern GBAO play a strategically important role as they serve as the country’s entry and exit points for trade and travel to neighboring countries, including to Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan and China, as well as serves as a transit corridor.
The project will finance the rehabilitation of over 50 km of roads in Sughd region in four sections: Bekabad (Uzbek border)–Kurkat, Dehmoi–Gafurov, Gafurov–Kistevarz, and Kuchkak–Kanibodom. It will also support the construction of the Khorog bridge and tunnels, galleries and bridges around the Barsem village on the Pamir Highway in GBAO, which is highly prone to natural disasters. The Pamir Highway is a critical regional corridor that links Tajikistan directly to China, Afghanistan and further to South Asia Region. In order to support Tajikistan’s post-COVID-19 recovery, all construction works will use local labor force and local materials and suppliers to generate positive impacts on the economy.
To facilitate cross-border trade, the project will upgrade the customs information and communication technology platform, invest in institutional capacity and human resources of the Customs Service and provide non-intrusive inspection equipment for border inspection of cargo and passenger traffic. These activities will help streamline border procedures in line with internationally agreed norms and standards.
To ensure the long-term sustainability and climate resilience of the country’s road network, the project will finance the installation of the weigh-in-motion systems across the road network and set up software packages for recording, storage and analysis of road network conditions, traffic volumes, and natural hazard exposure data to enable more effective maintenance planning and budgeting. It will also support several activities to improve road safety and build national capacity in this area. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016 the cost of road accident deaths and injuries in Tajikistan was equivalent to 6 percent of the country’s GDP.
The CARs-4 is part of a series of multi-country projects under the Central Asia Regional Links Program, the goal of which is to increase cross-border connectivity and enhance integrated regional development to revitalize historically active economic exchanges in Central Asia and beyond along the Silk Route. The Second Phase of the Central Asia Road Links Program (CARs‐2) is financing the rehabilitation of approximately 70 kilometers of cross-border road sections in Sughd region connecting Tajikistan’s road network with that of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.
The World Bank Group’s active portfolio in Tajikistan includes 21 projects totaling $938 million that aim to help Tajikistan take advantage of emerging regional opportunities, transform its economy and improve the livelihoods of its citizens. Since 1996, the World Bank has provided almost $2 billion in grants, highly concessional IDA credits, and trust fund resources.