Bhutan to get second national highway
Japan and the Asian Development Bank are helping prepare a
feasibility study for a road project in Bhutan that will ensure more balanced
and sustainable economic expansion in the less developed southern part of the
country, an ADB news release said. The Japan Special Fund, through ADB, will
provide a $650,000 grant for the feasibility study, while Bhutan will extend
$165,000 to complete funding requirement.
The feasibility study will focus on a national highway in the southern corridor,
as well as feeder roads in the middle of the corridor. The study will be the
basis of a road project design for possible loan financing.
"Most of the poor, especially in rural areas, feel that the Government should
prioritise road infrastructure and bridges to improve their living conditions,"
said Arto Ahonen, Transport Specialist, South Asia Department, ADB.
A large segment of the rural population of Bhutan, a landlocked country situated
to the northeast of India, has limited access to markets and modern services
because of harsh geography and limited reach of the domestic transport system.
There are no domestic flights, railways, and rivers fit for water transport, the
release noted. Bhutan depends on a single east-west national highway running
through the middle of the Himalayan country. The absence of a similar highway in
the south has constrained travel in that part of Bhutan. Road access plays a
vital part in the country's trade and commerce. India is Bhutan's biggest
trading partner, accounting for around 90 per cent of its imports and 70 per
cent of its exports. At present, only the north-south road corridor located in
western Bhutan connects the two countries. Bhutan's exports to Bangladesh also
travel through India.
[October 27-November 2, 2008]