WB-funded regional connectivity project kicks off


The project will upgrade Sylhet-Sheola road to four-lane, automate three land ports, and modernise Chattogram Customs House

TBS Report

14 June, 2023, 11:15 pm

Last modified: 14 June, 2023, 11:20 pm

The 29.73-km road built for better communication among Itna, Mithamoin and Astagram upazilas of Kishoreganj has become a major problem as it causes untimely floods and damages paddies on a wide range of land. Photo: TBS

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The 29.73-km road built for better communication among Itna, Mithamoin and Astagram upazilas of Kishoreganj has become a major problem as it causes untimely floods and damages paddies on a wide range of land. Photo: TBS

The 29.73-km road built for better communication among Itna, Mithamoin and Astagram upazilas of Kishoreganj has become a major problem as it causes untimely floods and damages paddies on a wide range of land. Photo: TBS

The first phase of the World Bank-supported Accelerating Transport and Trade Connectivity in Eastern South Asia programme was inaugurated at a capital hotel on Wednesday.

The project will upgrade the 43km two-lane Sylhet-Charkai-Sheola road to a four-lane one, support digital systems and infrastructure at three land ports, and modernise the Chattogram Customs House.

“Once the project is implemented, our regional trade will be enhanced,” State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said while addressing the event.

“Around 50% of our total trade with India is being done through the three land ports. The automation will boost the trade activities as well as relations with the neighbouring country,” he said and thanked the World Bank for its support in the programme.

The World Bank is providing $753.45 million, equivalent to TK8,137 crore to implement the project. Officials said the project will help reduce travel time to India by 30% and fatalities by 40% once it is implemented fully within 2028.

Physical customs inspection will reduce to 10% from the current 25% in the red channels and the customs clearance through green channels will reach 60% from the current 0%, World Bank officials said.

Guangzhe Chen, vice president for infrastructure at the World Bank, said the South Asia region is the least economically integrated area in the world. Intra-regional trade is about 5-6% of total international trade in the area while the rate is 22% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 50% in the East Asian region, he added.

He further said, “The cost of trade in the South Asian region is very high due to long procedures in documentation and the lack of logistics.”

“Informal trade in South Asia is around 50% of the formal trade within this region,” added Erik Nora, senior transport specialist of the WB. “Trade cost in the South Asian nations is 27% higher than that between East Asian countries.”

He also added that businessmen in South Asian countries need to spend 88% of their trade costs for obtaining, submitting or having trade-related documents, checked or processed by different jurisdictions, during the cross-border trades.

The World Bank has confirmed $1.28 billion in loans for accelerated transport and trade connectivity in Eastern South Asia, where it provides $753.45 million to Bangladesh, $275 million for Nepal and $100 million to Bhutan. The World Bank approved the project last year. 





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