The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $195m loan to improve the highway section between Pokhara and Mugling in Nepal.

The highway section links Pokhara to Kathmandu and to subregional corridors connecting Nepal with India and Bangladesh.

Of the total $254m project cost, the government will provide $59m. The project is expected to be completed at the end of 2025.

As part of the project, 81km of road will be widened to four lanes from Pokhara to Abukhaireni and improvements will be made to the surfacing, structure and drainage.

Safety features such as crash barriers and traffic and other warning light systems will be installed and a second 8km section between Mugling and Abukhaireni is planned for a future project.

ADB transport specialist Johan Georget said: “The highway will be widened to four lanes, and this will reduce travel times, lower transport costs and improve access to domestic markets, jobs and social services.

“The upgraded highway will also open a wider gateway for Nepal to international markets, especially in India, and facilitate the arrivals of tourists to the region of Pokhara and its hinterland.”

The existing two-lane highway handles approximately 7,400 vehicles a day. Vehicle registration numbers are on the rise, with total vehicle numbers expected to quadruple by 2029.

A landslide monitoring and management system will also be installed to strengthen disaster resilience.

The road will be divided by a median. New service lanes will be added in urban areas to improve safety, especially for pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycle users.

The project is also supported by an ADB technical assistance grant of $500,000.