The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $300m loan to finance the construction of a four-lane, 12km road on the East-West Highway (EWH) between Khevi and Ubisa in Georgia, a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia.
The EWH is part of one of the six major corridors connecting member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) and carries 60% of Georgia’s foreign trade even though it represents only about 2% of the country’s entire road network length.
The 410km highway serves 13,000 vehicles per day with a traffic growth rate of more than 10% annually since 2005.
The motorway is crucial for the connectivity of international trade between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea and is also essential for Georgia’s global market access and socioeconomic development, ADB said.
In addition to constructing the 12km, four-lane road, primarily on a new alignment, the Khevi-Ubisa section of the EWH Improvement Project is also expected to improve road safety in the area through awareness campaigns.
The awareness programme has been included in the project because 20% of all road crashes in Georgia, which cost 1% to 2% of gross domestic product, happen on the EWH.
Officials and other stakeholders will be trained to ensure the operations and maintenance of the road infrastructure.
The project also supports ADB’s efforts to help the Government of Georgia upgrade the EWH.
In June, the ADB-financed Kobuleti Bypass was inaugurated. In March 2017, ADB approved a $114m loan, with another $114m of co-financing provided by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to construct the Batumi Bypass.
The new project will cost $429.5m, of which the Government of Georgia will contribute $129.5m. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
ADB senior transport specialist for Central and West Asia Valerie Lisack said: “Georgia’s geographic location puts the country at the heart of the trading and logistics activities not only in Central Asia, but the rest of Europe and Asia, which opens up a lot of growth opportunities for the economy.
“ADB’s support will enhance connectivity within the country and the region, increasing economic activity, while also improving road safety.”
Image: ADB approves $300m loan to build new section of East-West Highway in Georgia. Photo: Courtesy of Asian Development Bank.