The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $100 million grant to improve a 113-kilometer (km) road section between Ayni–Panjakent and the Uzbekistan border in northern Tajikistan. The road is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 6 that spans about 10,000 km linking Europe and the Russian Federation to the Middle East and South Asia.
Tracing part of the historic Silk Road, the project road runs along the Zarafshan River through the Zarafshan Valley, crossing the Ayni and Panjakent districts before ending at the border with Uzbekistan. It is both a vital link in Tajikistan’s national road network, and of regional significance as it provides a long-term trade corridor with Uzbekistan.
The project will upgrade a 47 km category IV mountainous road section from Ayni roundabout to km 47, and a 66 km category III plain section from km 47 to the border of Uzbekistan. A total of 31 bridges will also be rehabilitated.
ADB Transport Specialist Zheng Wu said, “Improvements to this road will increase regional connectivity, reduce transport costs, and strengthen competitiveness. This will also improve access to markets and social services for impoverished local communities; stimulate development of agriculture, tourism and mining industries that in return create job opportunities; and improve the region’s living standards.”
The project will also improve road safety by promoting community road safety awareness and strengthening the road safety management capacity of the Ministry of Transport. It will also upgrade border-post infrastructure at Sarazm and bolster community development, including improving feeder roads, public facilities and provision of training to local communities.
The ADB grant will be sourced from the Asian Development Fund. The Government of Tajikistan will provide counterpart funding of $22 million, and the OPEC Fund for International Development will contribute a $14 million cofinancing loan.
The Tajikistan Ministry of Transport will be the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in 31 March 2016.