An $80 million Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan will upgrade a road providing a key link in and out of Myanmar’s agriculturally rich but underdeveloped Ayeyarwaddy delta.
“Upgrading the Maubin-Phyapon road which traverses the southeast of the delta will dramatically improve connectivity, cut travel times, reduce transport costs, and support economic development and livelihood opportunities for many poor communities,” said Jamie Leather, principal transport specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.
“It will also help Myanmar establish new business opportunities in rural areas which are expected to emerge as a result of the country’s ongoing economic liberalization program,” Leather added.
The delta is Myanmar’s main rice growing region and has significant potential for large scale agribusinesses and seafood industries. However the road network’s poor condition, due to years of neglect and the impact of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, deters enterprises like cash crops and high-value seafood products which require decent roads to get goods to market on time and in good condition.
The Manila-based lender said the project will upgrade a 54-kilometre north-south section of the road and bridges along the route, as well as finance new testing facilities for the Ministry of Construction and its Public Works department.
Climate-resilient features have been incorporated in the project design, including an increase in the height of parts of the road to improve clearance during seasonal floods and to cope with any climate-related storm surges.
Surfaced shoulders will also be built on both sides of the route will allow safe travel for non-motorised traffic and pedestrians and connections to the local waterway network will improve access to the more remote areas of the delta.
The project’s targets include reducing travel time along the route by 20 percent, tripling traffic volumes, and supporting new agribusinesses and agricultural processing facilities by 2022.
The project is part of ADB’s broader engagement with Myanmar in the roads sector and is a pilot initiative to demonstrate best practices for future road network improvements. It will run for about three years with an expected completion date of September 2018.