The FINANCIAL -- The Board of the Executive Directors of the World Bank on November 11 approved a US$150 million loan for the Republic of Belarus for a Road Upgrading and Modernization Project to help develop Belarusian transport infrastructure on a strategic transit corridor and introduce electronic tolling.
According to World Bank , the Project is part of the Government's National Transport Development Program 'Roads of Belarus" for the period 2006-2015. Among the objectives of the program are the creation of an enabling environment for the development of the national economy, enhancement of road safety, implementation of the Government's social policy, and facilitation of its private sector business initiative. The overall program includes the construction of four-lane motorways between Minsk and all five oblast capitals. In addition, the Government envisages relying increasingly on revenues from road tolling for the funding of road maintenance and further upgrading of the road network.
"Belarus' road sector is known to be the best-managed among the CIS states but it has suffered from a decrease of investment in recent years," said Andreas Schliessler, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Project. "The project is not just about building kilometers of motorway, it also increases road safety, brings new technologies and capacity to the transport sector, facilitates trade, and generates employment and local economic activity."
The Project includes three components. The first component, with an allocation of US$131 million, will finance the upgrading of a total of 53 km of existing two-lane road sections between Minsk and Bobrujsk into a modern 4-lane motorway. The road sections to be upgraded are part of the Trans-European Transport Corridor IX, connecting the Black Sea with the Baltic countries.
The second component, in the amount of $18 million, will introduce the initial stage of a new free-flow tolling system in Belarus using state-of-the-art technologies; helping to raise the efficiency of road network utilization and compliance with EU standards.
The third component, with an estimated cost of US$1 million will strengthen the institutional capacity of road sector institutions in Belarus and help them to converge towards European standards and methods.
The World Bank loan has a maturity of 15 years, including a 5 year grace period. Project implementation will start in 2011 and will take four years.
Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992. Since then, the Bank's lending commitments in Belarus have totaled US$865 million for 12 projects; about thirty national programs received grant financing totaling US$22.8 million. Belarus is currently receiving World Bank financing for seven projects to upgrade road infrastructure, to improve energy efficiency, water supply quality and waste management, and to develop infrastructure in Chernobyl-affected areas.